Global PC Market Trends

Chromebooks Help Drive PCs Upward in U.S. as Worldwide Computer Shipments Continue Slump

Declines seen in Asia/Pacific, and Brexit may negatively affect Europe. North American PC shipments increased for the first time in five quarters.

Worldwide PC shipments declined 5.2 percent in the second quarter of 2016 when compared to the second quarter of 2015, according to preliminary results from technology research firm Gartner. Shipments totaled 64.3 million units in Q2 2016, compared to 67.85 million shipments in Q2 2015. This was the seventh consecutive quarter of PC shipment declines; however, Gartner analysts said the global market is showing some signs of improvement.

“One of the ongoing problems in the PC market has been the price hike in selected regions due to the weakening local currency against the U.S. dollar,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a prepared statement. “The price issue has impacted [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] and Latin America regions for the past year. However, PC shipment declines became rather modest in the second quarter compared with previous quarters, which suggests a fading currency impact.”

In the United States, PC shipments totaled 15.2 million units in Q2 2016, a 1.4 percent increase from Q2 2015. Like global trends, the U.S. PC market had experienced five consecutive quarters of shipment declines. Analysts observed that there are still opportunities and challenges ahead for the U.S. PC market.

“While vendors and channels generally have more optimistic expectations of PC sales compared with the past, there is still a chance to have a potential inventory built,” Kitagawa said. “The second and third quarters are typically PC buying season for the U.S. public sectors. Positive second-quarter results could suggest healthy PC sales activities among the public sectors. There is an opportunity for a Windows 10 refresh among businesses, which we expect to see more toward the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2017.”    

In a separate study by the International Data Corporation’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, worldwide PC shipments declined a more modest 4.5 percent, beating the minus 7.4 percent forecast by roughly 3 percent.

IDC described second quarter performance in the U.S. as “a healthy jump in growth,” with HP and Dell vying for leadership in the U.S. market. HP beat out Dell with 4.7 million units shipped in Q2 2016, compared to Dell’s 4.4 million units shipped in the U.S. Lenovo came in third with 2.4 million units shipped in Q2 2016, while Apple shipped 1.9 million units during the same period.

IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker cited strong gains in Chrome shipments, and stated that the year-over-year growth for Q2 in the U.S. was a more robust 5 percent.

Both studies recognized Lenovo as the worldwide PC market leader, with approximately 13.2 million units shipped in Q2 2016. HP came in close behind, with 13 million (IDC study) or 12.3 million (Gartner) units shipped worldwide in Q2 2016.

Europe remains a conundrum for the PC market, and “even the best case scenario calls for PCs to face significant challenges,” said Jay Chou, research manager for IDC Worldwide PC Tracker, in a prepared statement. The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union is expected to affect the timing and scope of spending plans throughout Europe, Chou said.

Asia/Pacific is also uncertain territory; PC shipments totaled 22.7 million units in Q2 2016, a 6.3 percent decline from Q2 2015, according to Gartner. PC shipments in China, where business confidence is weak, declined 6.4 percent.

Gartner also cited a stagnant economy in the Asia/Pacific region, elections in Australia, the Philippines and South Korea — which created a lull in IT spending from the government sector — and smartphones seen as a higher purchase priority than PCs.

More information from both studies can be found on the Gartner and IDC press sites.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at

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