The PC market has been fairly anemic for the past several years, but it has slowly been starting to show signs of turning around. For the second quarter of 2018, that upswing has manifested in the market's first year-over-year growth since 2012.
Gartner and IDC, two prominent market research firms, report that total worldwide PC shipments are up from the second quarter of 2017 (via The Verge). Specifically, Gartner shows that PC shipments increased by 1.4 percent in Q2 2018, while IDC pegs the growth at 2.7 percent.
Both are small gains, but they mark the first yearly increase since the first quarter of 2012. As for the difference in growth rate, it all comes down to the types of devices Gartner and IDC count among the PC market. While Gartner's data includes Windows desktops, notebooks, and tablets, it doesn't include Chromebooks. Meanwhile, IDC records Windows desktops, laptops, and Chromebooks, while excluding Windows tablets and detachables.
Despite their differences, both Gartner and IDC agree that the driver of the PC market growth is the business market, offsetting a general decline among consumers. From Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa:
PC shipment growth in the second quarter of 2018 was driven by demand in the business market, which was offset by declining shipments in the consumer segment. In the consumer space, the fundamental market structure, due to changes on PC user behavior, still remains, and continues to impact market growth. Consumers are using their smartphones for even more daily tasks, such as checking social media, calendaring, banking and shopping, which is reducing the need for a consumer PC.
IDC agrees, also noting growth among premium devices and gaming PCs:
Once again business volume appeared to be the key driver with the top three companies reaping benefits across both desktop and notebook. Moreover, the market continued to grow for both premium as well as entry models. Chrome OS-based devices, premium notebooks, and gaming PCs all further fueled the mix in the wake of improved supply and prices of graphic cards.
After years of decline, even the modest year-over-year shipment growth shown in the most recent quarter is a good sign for the market as a whole. However, as businesses complete their upgrade cycles in the coming years, it will be interesting to see if the market can continue this momentum.