Gartner: Decline in PC sales continues for yet another quarter

Time was when back-to-school computer promotions were a major sales driver for the PC industry. Unfortunately, those hoping to see computer sales start to grow again this fall are leaving the back-to-school season disappointed. Preliminary numbers from Gartner indicate that worldwide shipments of PCs declined 5.7% compared to the same quarter of last year. Shipments have now declined for eight consecutive quarters, the longest such stretch in the PC industry's history.

Gartner offers two reasons as to why this decline is continuing. The first is that consumers are waiting longer to upgrade their PCs. Consumers in mature markets indicate in Gartner's surveys that they use and own at least three devices, and that their PC is not the highest priority device. These consumers are much more likely, for example, to upgrade their phone than their PC, and many parents are handing down their old computers to their kids rather than purchasing them new ones.

The second reason is that consumers in emerging markets aren't all that keen to purchase PCs. While the U.S. saw a relatively flat 0.3%decline in PC shipments since last year, shipments in the Asia-Pacific region declined 7.6%. Gartner suggests that consumers in emerging markets are more likely to use smartphones or phablets instead of a computer.

Despite the gloomy overall numbers, there are a few rays of sunshine in Gartner's report. While Lenovo's shipments declined overall, its U.S. PC shipments increased 15.3%. These gains gave the company the edge over HP Inc. as the leading global supplier of PCs. Dell, HP, and Asus all saw increases in PC shipments both inside the U.S. and internationally. Mobile PCs (including notebooks, two-in-ones, and Windows tablets) showed better growth than their desktop counterparts, though Gartner didn't offer a detailed breakdown. Finally, Gartner doesn't include Chromebooks in its PC shipment report, but notes that Chromebooks exceeded PCs in shipment growth this quarter.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Zen will save the day! You’ll see!!

    /A New Hope

    • K-L-Waster
    • 3 years ago

    Over and above the move to mobile devices and the lack of bang-for-your-buck on PC upgrades, the other major contributor to this is cloud computing. Regardless of whether people use a PC or a tablet or a phone, a much larger portion of the software they use these days isn’t actually executing on their device: it’s executing in a data center somewhere and they’re just using their device to run the UI.

    Under that model, the only thing you can do to make your device “better” is get a better screen. Everything else you can upgrade hardware wise will not even be involved.

    • albundy
    • 3 years ago

    i’m sure it has to do with people smartening up and building their own. one too many have been burned buy the pisspoor quality of branded machines. these fools that put their logo on plastic boxes have been cutting corners since day 1. building a rig is pretty much fool proof these days…its not like you need to flip dip switches and set up manual configurations.

      • tacitust
      • 3 years ago

      I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with that at all. There is no evidence of a burgeoning DIY market for PCs, and sales to businesses and the sale of laptops are an order of magnitude higher.

      You also misunderestimate the difficulty regular folks would have building a PC, even these days. Sure, it’s easier, but even ordering a set of compatible components is far beyond what most people can manage — or more importantly, want to manage — let alone putting it all together and then coming to a screeching halt when it doesn’t all work perfectly first time.

      Everyone I know owns at least one laptop. I know one other person, aside from me, that owns a desktop PC, which he built in 2009 and recently upgraded with an SSD. Nothing has changed on that score.

    • Crackhead Johny
    • 3 years ago

    My 7(?) year old Ivy(or is is Sandy?) Bridge system is still kicking along just fine at ~5ghz. I replaced the video card with a 970 and it still plays the latest and greatest games in all their glory so I’m not sure why I would want a new computer other than just have something that is “new”.
    At this rate I see myself probably upgrading the video card again in a few years and maybe finally moving from 16GB of mem to 32 GB.

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]My 7(?) year old Ivy(or is is Sandy?) Bridge system[/quote<] If you had a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge system in 2009 then I'm borrowing your time machine this weekend.

        • meerkt
        • 3 years ago

        Wikipedia says SB was “demoed” in 2009. He could have an engineering sample.

          • pranav0091
          • 3 years ago

          He could also have a time machine 😉

            • chuckula
            • 3 years ago

            Occam’s Razor: TIME MACHINE FTW!

      • kleinwl
      • 3 years ago

      Ok.. my 8 year old system is sporting a Q6600, 8GB of DD2 ram, 560TI graphics card and a 80GB SSD running Win 10 x64. It’s not fast, and the integrated audio burned out a year ago, but honestly I don’t have the necessity to replace it.
      When I switched from a 286 to a 486DX it was a big improvement
      When I switched from a 486DX to a P4 it was another big improvement
      When I switched from a P4 to Athon Single Core, it was a big improvement
      When I switched from an Athon Single Core to a X2, it was a HUGE improvement
      When I switched from an X2 to the Q6600 is was another HUGE improvement
      Since then, adding more RAM and an SSD made the system sporty enough that I feel that my weak link it the graphics card.
      Right now I think I have a better EROI (enjoyment return on investment) buying the humblebundle games than buying a new CPU, though I really do need to get my hands on a GTX1060.

        • ColeLT1
        • 3 years ago

        486 to P4 is quite a jump!

        My list:
        486sx 25mhz
        Pentium mmx 166mhz
        K6-2m 500mhz
        P4 Willamette 1.5ghz
        Athlon 1.0ghz
        Athlon xp 2.13ghz @ 2.3
        P4 Prescott 3.4ghz (short lived dvd shrink station)
        Athlon X2 3800+ 2.0ghz @ 2.3
        Athlon X2 4800+ 2.4ghz @ 2.6
        Core 2 Quad 2.66ghz 45nm (Xeon x3350) @ 3.6ghz
        I7 950 3.06/3.33ghz @ 4.1ghz
        I7 3770k 3.4/3.8ghz @ 4.7ghz (still have this as my home server)
        I7 4770k 3.5/3.7ghz @ 4.8ghz
        I7 4790k 4.0/4.4ghz @ 4.9ghz (current PC, backed off to 4.8ghz)
        I7 6700k 4.0/4.2ghz broke the chip after delid, due to EK waterblock naked mount (said was supported, then they removed support after we all broke our chips), sold that setup and went back to 4790k naked mount.

        I also sell my stuff to friends, so I don’t typically keep things long. Building 3 i7-7700k computers when released, for myself and 2 good friends.

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    I keep seeing older and older laptops from staff when evaluating them for BYOD use.

    XP and Vista laptops are common. They may be outdated but they can still do everything most people want, and they work fine. Why the hell would you replace something for no reason?

      • sweatshopking
      • 3 years ago

      Xp and vista?! God man! Where do you work?

        • just brew it!
        • 3 years ago

        He did say “BYOD”. These are employee-owned systems.

          • Chrispy_
          • 3 years ago

          Aye.

          To be allowed to run the VPN client, the user’s machine has to pass a policy check and meet all of the following:

          [list<][*<]Windows 7 or Server 2008R2 and newer[/*<][*<]Current user must [b<]not[/b<] have local admin rights[/*<][*<]UAC must be enabled[/*<][*<]Antivirus and database version must be on a whitelist[/*<][*<]Antivirus realtime protection must be active.[/*<][/list<] The oldest machine I can recall that's still in active duty as a BYOD device is a 1.6GHz Turion64 MSI laptop that came to me with Windows 98 on it. It was a huge beast with the most beautiful VA panel I've ever seen in a laptop, it was 1920x1200 at 17" I think. The lowly processor is plenty fast enough to run remote desktop connection so it's effectively a thin-client that's old and fat.

            • Anonymous Coward
            • 3 years ago

            [quote<]It was a huge beast with the most beautiful VA panel I've ever seen in a laptop, it was 1920x1200 at 17" I think.[/quote<] I approve!

      • just brew it!
      • 3 years ago

      Provided they are capable of running a supported version of Windows (or Linux if the use case is amenable), I see no issue with continuing to use the hardware. But having an XP or Vista system on a corporate network with internet access is an unacceptable security risk, IMO.

    • Philldoe
    • 3 years ago

    Do these sales figures take into account people who build there own computers rather than buy prebuilts?

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      We are the minority, although a non-trivial minority.

      • just brew it!
      • 3 years ago

      How would you even go about figuring that out? Smaller local shops buy their parts the same way DIYers do.

        • Zizy
        • 3 years ago

        Assuming inventory levels don’t really change you won’t miss all that much.
        So you simply need to count number of motherboards sold and subtract say 5% as those are replacements of fried ones and not new systems. And it doesn’t matter if it is a pure DIY build, or a boutique PC builder.

          • meerkt
          • 3 years ago

          Also CPUs, perhaps.

    • chµck
    • 3 years ago

    Even though i can afford a new computer each year, it still boggles my mind how some people don’t keep their PCs for at least a few (2-3) years.

      • ColeLT1
      • 3 years ago

      I feel you, and when I was younger I felt that way, but everyone is different. I rebuild (board/cpu/video card) every year, it is a hobby. I get to play with the latest next generation tech, tinker with it, try to squeeze every mhz out of the chip. I’m a sysadmin so I like to stay on top of all the newest stuff.

      The process cost me $200-300 a year which is nothing compared to my other lifestyle and hobby expenses (CCS race bike, street bike, dirt bikes, jet ski, Z06, truck, house/yard, GF lol). To put in perspective just a weekend trackday on my racebike will cost me 500+ after tires, fees, transportation, if nothing goes wrong.

      I have no debt, plenty in the bank, even more in retirement, so why not?

      • K-L-Waster
      • 3 years ago

      Agreed. Why replace them?

      I’m prone to getting “the itch” from time to time and my main system is ~3 years old, so in that respect I normally would be “due” — but from what I can tell, if I was to replace my Haswell system with a Sky Lake or Kaby Lake system I would probably find it pretty much impossible to see a quantifiable difference other than the inclusion of USB-C connectors. I don’t do a lot of CPU heavy number crunching, and in gaming terms the primary determining factor continues to be the GPU, only the GPU, and nothing but the GPU. Other than “I kinda wanna try makin’ a mITX system” there really is no reason for me to buy anything.

    • just brew it!
    • 3 years ago

    …and absolutely nobody was surprised. Mobile devices and servers (to provide the back-end “cloud” support for all those mobile devices) are the future of tech.

    Even within the PC segment, the shift is to notebooks. My current job is the first job I’ve had since the 1980s where I do not have a dedicated desktop PC.

      • tacitust
      • 3 years ago

      I would go further than that. In the long term, our tech devices will essentially disappear from view, in the sense that they will be seamlessly built into the our lives — homes, cars, appliances, audio/video systems, games consoles, workplace, etc — all connected via the cloud.

      The push toward voice control is just beginning, and will eventually evolve into a conversational interface that will feel as natural as telling your own personal butler to do things for you.

      Could take a while yet, but that’s the direction I see us heading in.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 3 years ago

        Have to disagree that these devices will disappear for IT professionals. Much like the command line is getting stronger, not weaker, people doing technical work will need more than a good conversational companion, right up to the point that skynet takes over.

        But yes for regular people, what you said seems about right to me.

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 3 years ago

      I’m working a pretty data-centric place but each new machine the IT department brings in appears to be actually slower than the one it replaces. For example replacing a Thinkpad W520 or W530 that has SSD, 4c/8t and Quadro GPU with an ultrabook with 2 cores, integrated graphics. The data is increasingly being handled in the cloud and I can’t see that trend changing.

      There is not a single modern desktop machine in the whole company.

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    They need to make PCs self-destruct after about 24 months or so to keep up with the mobile sector.

    It reminds me of the dark days of the [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague<]capacitor plague[/url<]. Truly bad times for consumers. But Dell sure moved a lot of boxes back then!

      • just brew it!
      • 3 years ago

      Dell (and pretty much everyone else) also took a hit doing all the warranty replacements. I suspect the only real winners were the companies who make all the other chips and (non-capacitor) components that go on the motherboards.

      • shank15217
      • 3 years ago

      You make a good point. I think one of the #1 reasons people replace their phones is cause they drop it enough in a year that by the 5th time it barely works. My wife keeps dropping her phone for no apparent reason and now the speakers stopped working and its a Moto -G gen 3 soooo i guess its time for an upgrade in basically a year. Thankfully I buy cheap good-enough phones.

        • just brew it!
        • 3 years ago

        I’ve never understood how people can repeatedly drop their phone in the toilet. Happens more often than you’d think.

        • oldog
        • 3 years ago

        Has she seen a neurologist?

      • DoomGuy64
      • 3 years ago

      None of that is positive growth in the long term, because self destructive business models cause users to leave for alternatives. Gamers left for consoles, and laptop users switched to tablets and cloud computing. Other than that, the real reason “PC is dying” is because the tech industry keeps pushing users into these alternatives since it’s easier to monetize.

      Instead, I would suggest the opposite: Make a better product, and people will come back. Today’s PC users have become immune to the constant “PC is dead” propaganda pieces, so it isn’t going to move the dedicated PC userbase. The market isn’t infinite, so sales aren’t going to increase unless the PC industry starts stealing sales back from the other markets.

    • sweatshopking
    • 3 years ago

    #msisdoomed

      • blastdoor
      • 3 years ago

      More like everyone is doomed.

      Smartphone sales are stagnant.
      Tablets continue to decline.
      Wearables aren’t really going anywhere.

      What are people buying these days? Beer maybe?

        • chuckula
        • 3 years ago

        Really? I had heard that at least one model of Samsung had an explosive impact on the market.

          • K-L-Waster
          • 3 years ago

          Yes, yes, you’re here all week… unless you have a Note 7, of course, in which case you could be leaving at high velocity in multiple directions at any moment….

        • ImSpartacus
        • 3 years ago

        VR.

        It’s pretty overpriced and meh right now, but it’s a virgin market in an otherwise stagnant industry. I bet it’ll get pushed hard soon.

        Or it could end up like wearables…

        • Vhalidictes
        • 3 years ago

        Everyone that wants a PC has a PC. With a decent graphics card, even Sandy Bridge is decent-performing, and that came out in 2011.

        More like Intelisdoomed, they’re competing with themselves.

          • K-L-Waster
          • 3 years ago

          On the desktop / laptop, that may be true. In the data center, though, they’re still plenty healthy.

          • Voldenuit
          • 3 years ago

          Corollary: also, everyone who couldn’t afford a PC then still can’t afford a PC now.

          Intel, lower your damn prices if you want to sell anything.

      • JalaleenRumi
      • 3 years ago

      I don’t know what’s wrong with my Head but I kept reading that as #isisdoomed and then I was trying to justify the ‘m’ by calling it a Typo at your end. I must be reading too many news articles about Syria.

      • briskly
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]Among these devices, the PC is not a high priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to. [u<]Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again.[/u<][/quote<] Doomed. DOOMED!!

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 3 years ago

      While phones haven’t gone well and desktops are loosing importance, MS has been pretty successful in the datacenter including cloud computing. In an age when most devices export the heavy lifting to the cloud, the cloud is a good place to be strong. MS is lined up well for the “second industrial revolution” or whatever we should call the coming round of automation powered by machine learning.

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