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Gartner reports PC shipments went up in Q4 2014, but IDC says otherwise

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Stream 11

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

63 Comments
  • Boy, the OS clashes with that purple chassis.
  • I really believe tablets(hybrids) with detachable keyboards should be included in IDCs numbers. The 2-in-1 form factor is the direction Microsoft, with its "hybrid OS", is directing the market. Many OEMs have appropriately adopted hardware designs that fit with that vision.
    Numbers that fail to include those hybrid form factors in my opinion are retaining what is becoming an archaic view of what a PC is.
    The industry is moving away from the "legacy" view of a PC as strictly a device with a desktop or laptop form factor. Consumers are using PCs more and more in a mobile fashion. Windows 8(10) and apps(programs) are increasing designed for mobile AND static interaction. This must be acknowledged as a true and legitimate paradigm shift in what is categorized as a PC.
    IDC will likely be forced to change it's methods as it becomes progressively clearer that a PC is ALSO a hybrid device as the increasingly mobile computing consumers purchase more and more of these devices made by more and more OEMs at accessible price points and a diverse range of forms and capabilities in the coming year.
    The last quarter of 2014 was promising with a range of low priced Windows tablets and hybids. And CES2015 gave a great foreshadow of what we can expect from OEMs on the Windows front with hybrid devices.
    I believe that Microsoft was successful with the Surface Pro 3 acting as an aspirational device door OEMs. Many OEMs have taken the torch and are running with high quality devices that will really showcase the benefits of Microsoft's OS, especially Windows 10.
    IDC, may be just a tad short sighted, or they may just be waiting for the wave to hit. Either way I confident they will be changing the way they measure PC sales in time.
  • Dear god man, that was one hell of a comment. I felt like I was reading a post again in PhD school. Good job. What you said makes sense. I tend to agree, but getting an entire industry on board is another thing. I'm not used to reading comments of this caliber here, I know some others can comment similarly, and sometimes do (Micah, DCJBS, and Rodneyj, to name a few, there are others, cyclinguynokia, theefman, etc) well done.
  • It was only a few paragraphs you gold fish :)  Well done Eldar Jward. Rodney makes wild speculative comments and DJBS is an MS hater, not sure their long winded dribble counts in the same way as this sensible post. +1 I agree with you. he's bang on the money. I've just stopped using my lovely Acer Bmidz 23 inch touch display at work, as the Surface Pro 3 is lovely to look at all day long. I've even used my PEN more (due to another good comment on WPCentral). The OneNote desktop app is a great Visio / hadnwriting / free hand drawing tool of deep joy. More capable than I realised.  But the industry is changing, newer hybrid devices AND COLOUR! would never have happened pre iPad, only Apple stealing sales and making a new market has forced old boring (dumb) PC OEMs to up their game and diversify and build beautiful machines and not just grey boring utlitity computers. PCs have to be objects of desire now, Apple changed the market. Compute is no longer just a tool, its a fashion and status statement.
  • Well, we need our own forum. We just need some sort of verifiable qualifications for admission. Wouldn't that be nice? Akin to LinkedIn and how one can only accept certain folks if they own the... What do they call it?.... association, for the lack of a better term. Ok, I probably sound elitist for those who don't understand.
  • That's actually quite a good idea for you people who have unique view on things... But don't you think it's better that you show some lights on here as well? ;)
  • I don't understand... Lights?
  • @Permanently Banned and @hwnageruk I very much appreciate your positive remarks regarding my comment on John's article. Thank you for such positive feedback. I enjoy adding my thoughts to such an engaged and excited community of users. It's always encouarging to know that something I write has had a positive affect on a reader(s). I am very passionate about mobile technology (technology in general actually ) with a particular affinity, as everyone here, for Microsoft's particular offerings. I love Windows/(phone)! I spend a good portion of my time catering to this passion by reading numerous articles from various sources, reading and posting tech related tweets and Facebook posts, and writing articles on my own personal blogs. I've converted several of my family and friends to Windows Phone and try to communicate in a fair and effective manner the strengths Microsoft brings to the industry.  Despite my passion, I do understand Microsoft’s underdog position in mobile, and contend that this particular position is a result of missteps and missed opportunities by the tech giant in the pre-iPhone and pre-Android mobile landscape, when Redmond had a strong presence in this area. Yet, as my previous comment alludes to and the numerous articles here at Windows Central and elsewhere on the web communicate – Microsoft’s Windows 10 is a potentially game changing solution that will take advantage of Microsoft’s huge 1.5 Billion PC install base, coalescing mobile and PC (PCs including hybrids) users and developers around one code (universal apps) and one store. If successful, which we all hope it will be, such a large consumer base, with an opportunity to share code, will be hard for developers to ignore. Commentary and analysis of Microsoft’s position in the industry as their strategy of a unified, synergistic, ecosystem materializes - as hybrid devices become what consumers consider the norm, as Windows 10 grows in market share, as developers  (I predict) eventually surge to create universal apps adding 10s of thousands more apps (to the nearly 600,000 Store/Phone apps) at a higher rate than Windows has previously experienced, as improved Windows mobile offerings grow in preference in the enterprise (to work in greater accord with the MS IT infrastructure most companies currently utilize, and MS's comprehensive Mobile management tools further complement the option) and as unique consumer facing Windows features(as we will get our first look next week on Jan 21, 2015)  enhance the mobile and app experience that Windows 10 will bring to users of the platform across devices - yes- commentary and analysis of Microsoft’s position in the industry (that transformed industry) will be highly engaging, very exciting and will present a diverse and dynamic palette of information in which we enthusiast and writers can all hungrily indulge. I look forward to what Windows 10 is prepared to bring. My keyboard is at the ready, my hands are poised over the keys, my ears are to the ground and my eyes, well they’re peering intently into a future where Microsoft’s Windows 10 quite literally may change the game.  @JLTechWord  
  • Yes, Windows 10 could be a gamer changer. I still don't understand why Store Apps haven't had stronger traction. I personally love the security, and simplicity or install and uninstall brings. Also the segreagation of apps, the loss of DLL hell (thank god). Having created Universal apps though, I do understand why MVVM is a bit of a mountain to climb. MS opening up .Net is also helping. 2015, a very intersting year for those of us who don't blindly hate on MS and like some of their products!
  • Honestly I do believe apple began the push, but IMO what really motivated OEMs was the surface line. Just a guess, but I think when OEMs saw the beauty of the surface and the fact that they had actual competition for windows, they realized they needed to kick it up a notch. In the words of Elzar, "BAM!"
  • Why cant we get this colour in UK
  • Go Gartner!
  • Gartner measures correctly. Tablets with detachable keyboards are definitely PCs. Think Surface, Asus Transformer, Acer Split, etc. Some of the top sold devices are these.
  • IDC is incorrect.
  • How about Macs then? If a Chromebook isn't classified as a PC well the strictly speaking neither should a Mac. The best analyse would in my opinion include Macs, Chrome OS and Windows (not the RT, WP and the future Windows 10 for phones) and in any form factor.
  • Chromebooks and Macs shouldn't be classified as PCs. Those dirty peasants have their place. PCgamingmasterraceftw.
  • I agree.
  • Both IDC and Gartner include Mac PCs in their estimates
  • A mac is a general purpose computer. A chromebook is a limited use appliance.
  • I thought they were BOTH limited use appliances only bought by morons.
  • The truest sentence in this whole article!  
  • I agree, very expensive paperweights  :D
  • Wake up, chrome OS is a browser, not a real OS like windows or osx.
  • A piece of software that runs a "PC" is what I would call an OS. And i cannot really see how the Chromebooks are of limited use. You cannot install traditional PC software but the system has apps/plugins instead. How is it limited?
  • Pretty useless machines without an Internet connection all the time, so its not really in the same league. It also cannot run most PC software, so that places it in a niche segment.
    The Chrome book experiment is almost over. Educational institutions, once enamored of their low cost, are dropping them and Google's educational services because they are too unreliable and not really ready for Institutional deployment.
    In my kids School's thought they were going to be a godsend last year, now the entire State is fed up and switching to Microsoft Office. Not a moment too soon as we're ask free up of the slow and clunky interfaces as week as the lost work products that end up with the students having to do everything twice. Most of the time now the kids do their work on real PCs, print it out and hand it in because they're fed up with Google eating their homework!
  • Do you own a Chromebook? Because they do work even without internet. And who on earth, literally, do not have access to the internet?
    I happen to be a teacher, and even before Chromebooks came along, most primarily schools here in Denmark already used Googles services. Like everything else it isn't perfect, but to call it an experiment, and that they were bought purely because of their low cost is quite a bit of a stretch in my opinion.
  • Denmark, you need to be one smart bastard, like myself of course, to be a teacher. Am I correct? Yes, I was a college Prof for a while. I taught Radiologic technology and physics.
  • After a cop of coffee I sometimes get my iq as high as 45. Of course not if its been raining a fortnight before Easter, but I do hold the record for the most coherent sentence since Simpsons season 5.
  • Don't most of you teachers over there hold a Masters minimum? Something, like that. Help me out here, I'm know I'm not far off.
  • Nowhere near. Finland has university educated primarily school teachers. I have a somewhat-bachelor in educator meaning that I know how to teach but I don't hold a bachelor in the things that I teach. Its a strange concoction made up a few years ago because every one had to have fancy titles. Even the school were you take your somewhat-bachelor is now called University College :P
  • Really. I really thought it was Denmark. Hmmm. I'm out of questions I can ask here. Pm me, if you would. And, no, I never asked anyone that before.
  • Well thats the ONLY reason why several schools in my area chose them.  As soon as other alternatives like the HP stream became affordable the chromebooks were quickly sold off.  The same seems to also be happening with the idiot schools that were tricked into buying hundreds of iPads by slick apple sales drones.
  • Then the teachers in your area haven't been very creative. MS has only just now included real-time collaboration in Office and it still only applies to the online version. Google has had that for a long time now, and that is a simple yet extremely helpful tool when doing a paper in a group or even just for me as a teacher to "listen" in on when the kids work outside the classroom (which they do alot in Denmark). And that's just point were MS sadely has been very slow.
  • Where do you draw the line? By that reasoning, an iPad would be a PC because it has applications. But strangely, its not included in the IDC's statistics. Heck, that means even Android tablets would be considered PCs. So why are they including Chromebooks but excluding devices like the Surface Pro, which has a legitimate full desktop OS?
  • I never said that the Surface should be excluded. I said the opposite. Why would you think I would have tablets included..?
  • How stupid is IDC to mistake chromebooks for a PC. And not include actual windows PC's in their calculations.
  • Yeah doesn't make much sense right
  • Yeah... They include a browser instead of a PC... Wonder what the reasoning behind that is...
  • Most Analysts aren't very cited in about what actually goes on in the Industry they pretend to be experts about. The other problem with them is they want to produce data that has a stable definition, in a world where nothing is stable anymore. Doing so results in increasing unreliability of their analyses, but if their Customers don't demand better quality work they can use poorly educated people to churn out reports that are very profitable, if inaccurate or misleading.
  • Read the last paragraph of the article carefully. It's good news, folks!
  • Much more Windows tablets is sold then Chromebooks.
  • It'd be a lot more if the surface pro 3 were a tad cheaper but no cigar.
    I was $250 short from coming up with a good excuse to buy one while keeping the wife happy.
  • Well... There will be a wave of other 2 in 1 PC's that will place itself in the middle price market.
  • Which is why I don't trust these organizations and their stats on any platform and this one in particular. Kantar is the biggest offender of BS stats where Windows Phone is concerned.  It was not unexpected that when MS announced Windows X, Hey Cortana, Spartan etc. these groups would step up to piss on the platform. It happens almost by design. 
  • It's not that Windows tablets aren't counted by IDC, but they're counted in their tablet/smartphone/mobile report rather than their PC report. And I kind of get that.
  • It makes sense for a report on PC sales, but is not a statement of Windows sales, which is what many people here are looking for. I don't think either of these reports show the current state of Windows in the marketplace.
  • If it comes with a detachable keyboard I think it should be counted as a PC not a tablet. Still though, it can be used just as a tablet.
  • In the old days the world had something that was called a tablet-PC. A PC that could be used as a tablet. And there was something called a slate-PC. Both were PCs. Now a days a tablet is a complete different beast than the ThinkPad X201t I once had. I have no idea why the world could not handle having to use the old word tablet-PC to describe a PC in a tablet form factor. But that's how it is sadly...
  • So based on exclusions/inclusions Gartner are the ones doing it correctly and are the accurate numbers.
  • Well perhaps doing it 'more' correctly, but to include chromebooks is just baffling (and they both do that).
  • Does this include windows tablet PCs? As they are running on x86 processors and not mobile ones? After all windows tablets are not included in the figures for mobile os market share, whereas android and iOS tablets are... Windows 10 will definitely fix this numbers issue :(
  • They didn't just not count Surface, they also didn't count 2-in-1's like the Asus Transformer Book- which would've fallen in that $300 range sweet spot mentioned. Also, a solid performer like the Dell Venue Pro or even the newcomer from Nextbook. Yeah, Gartner easily seems like the more accurate of the two.
  • I would rather wait for Microsoft numbers on the Surface...this would give a clear idea how are the hybrids are doing in general... But there is no doubt they are gaining good traction
  • I purchased 2 Windows 2-N-1 PCs in the last year and will be getting another in a few months. I definitely believe Gartner  
  • Soo.. Windows Hybrid sales are up, Chromebook sales are way down? I can see that. :)  
  • So with chromebooks (that aren't real PC) market share sinks, with windows tablet (that are PC) market share rises. lol who said that 2014 would be the year of chromebooks? 2lol
  • Haha. Some loony did.
  • Let me fix the note at the bottom: NOTE: IDC makes up stuff cause they don't even know what a PC is. Gartner at least counts PCs. heh
  • :D
  • Gartner says 316 million computers sold for 2014. Google estimates 2 million ChromeOS devices sold in 2014. That's 0.6% Market Share, folks.  ChromeOS is on fire, going down in flames. :)
  • Lol
  • What I find peculiar is that Gartner has chosen to disregard chromebooks and IDC tablets + 2 in 1's yet included Chromebooks. I guess their defintion of PC's (Personal Computers) differs lol..
  •   Of course their numbers are different if they can't agree on what's being tracked. These two need to get together and come up with a compromise.