Gartner and IDC report first growth in PC shipments in six years

After a long period of slow declines in shipments, it looks like the PC might have temporarily arrested its slide. Research firms Gartner and IDC have released their latest reports on the state of the personal-computing market, and both suggest the number of PCs shipped grew slightly for the first time in six years.

For its part, Gartner says PC makers shipped 62.1 million units last quarter, up 1.4% from a year ago. That's not much, but it's something. Gartner warns that this reprieve may be temporary, as it says regular folk are still undertaking the move to mobile devices that have led to the PC's long decline to begin with.

The bright spot comes from sales to businesses. Gartner says that after businesses work through the Windows 10 upgrade cycle in a couple of years, this brief resurgence in shipments will fade and "momentum will weaken" again.

IDC has a rosier outlook for shipments, possibly thanks to the fact that it tracks a more inclusive slice of personal-computing devices than Gartner does. The firm's preliminary results suggest shipments of the devices it tracks grew 2.7% year-on-year to 62.3 million units, and it agrees with Gartner's assessment that businesses are behind the spike in the numbers. IDC notes that beyond business sales, it saw growth in Chrome OS devices, premium notebooks, and gaming PCs.

Neither firm provides detailed outlooks for the PC market in their public news releases, but if past consumer behavior serves as a good indicator of the future, these small bright spots are likely to be just that in the broader picture of the PC market's decline. Still, the industry needs all the good news it can get.

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