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Both the Gartner and IDC research firms have submitted their PC shipment numbers for the fourth quarter of 2014, but this time they appear to be in a disagreement. Gartner says that worldwide shipments of PCs went up by 1% during the final quarter of 2014, while IDC counters that with a 2.4% decline.

Gartner claims that there were a total of 83.7 million PC units shipped during the fourth quarter, with the U.S market experiencing the largest growth. It states:

"The fourth quarter of 2014 was the best holiday for PC sales in recent history. The primary driver was mobile PCs including regular notebooks, thin and light notebooks and 2-1s. Low priced notebooks with about a $300-200 price point boosted shipments while thin/light notebooks and two-in-ones (laptops with a detachable or bendable screen) showed strong growth. These results supports our assumption that consumer spending is returning to the PC as tablet penetration has reached the majority of the market."

IDC, on the other hand, claims that only 80.8 million PC units shipped during the fourth quarter. The 2.4% decline year-on-year was lower than their original 4.8% decline prediction. However, the company agrees with Gartner that the US market saw the largest growth in PC shipments, adding:

"The past year was supported by Windows XP to 7 migrations in the commercial segment while consumer volume continued to decline. Moving forward, the U.S. PC market should see flat to slightly positive growth. The U.S. consumer PC market will finally move to positive growth in 2015, strengthened by the slowdown in the tablet market, vendor and OEM efforts to rejuvenate the PC market, the launch of Windows 10, and replacement of older PCs."

Both IDC and Gartner state that Lenovo was the biggest company for PCs worldwide, while HP continues to be the largest PC hardware maker in the US market.

It should be noted that IDC includes shipments of Chromebooks in its report and excludes Windows tablets, including those that have a detachable keyboard. Gartner does not include Chromebook shipments in its data, but does include Windows-based tablets. That would suggest that IDC did not include sales of Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 in its estimates but that Gartner included them.

Source: Gartner; IDC