The story on the growth of the PC market continues to be less than positive, with Gartner reporting today that the global PC market fell by 5.9% in the third quarter of 2016. The drop in PC sales is just one of the reasons why Windows 10 won't hit the original goal of a billion installs by 2018, and greatly impacts the general well being of PC manufacturers.
Yesterday, IDC also reported a drop in PC sales worldwide, albeit slightly less of a drop at 3.9%. This represented somewhat better-than-expected results:
The better than expected results reflect competition among the market leaders and an effort to capitalize on market consolidation and future stabilization. After struggling to reduce inventory over the past year or more, PC vendors are now rebuilding inventory for the second half of the year. Combine this with an improving outlook, a race for market leadership between Lenovo and HP, and efforts to guarantee component supplies, and market drivers are taking shape. The seasonal increase in volume during the second half of the year and projected stronger demand going forward provide some justification for more aggressive positioning.
In addition, the largest vendors have consistently gained share and can exert a growing advantage over smaller players by dominating component supply and shelf space. Market leaders continued to gain share in the United States and globally. The top 3 PC vendors took just over 58% of the worldwide market in the third quarter, up from 55% a year ago and 51% in 2014. Nevertheless, total PC shipments are still declining and some of the short-term improvement may come out of next year rather than accelerating longer-term buying.
"We are very pleased to see some improvement in the market," said Loren Loverde, vice president, Worldwide PC Trackers & Forecasting. "Industry efforts to update products to leverage new processors and operating systems, to deliver a better computing experience encompassing more mobile, secure, and faster systems, and to accelerate PC replacements have been critical. These improvements are accumulating, and set the stage for a stronger market going forward."
IDC also found the U.S. a bit more resilient than did Gartner, with a 1.7% increase in sales for Q3 2016 compared to Gartner's report of a .3% decline. According to IDC, Chromebooks were a contributing factor, and so the news for Windows 10 might not be quite as rosy:
The United States PC market saw another quarter of positive growth. As expected, Chromebooks had another banner quarter in the K-12 market. Additionally, inventory replenishment in the channel continued, helping to drive total PC shipments above 17.5 million units. However, despite the positive growth, IDC maintains a cautious outlook for the fourth quarter.
We'll be keeping our eye on these developments as we head into the traditionally strong holiday season. Let us know in the comments if you plan to make any PC purchases before the year is out.