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PC shipments get hit with another decline in Q1 2016

PC shipments worldwide suffered a large decline during the first quarter of 2016. The research firms Gartner and IDC have slightly different numbers, but both showed that Windows 10 has still not made a huge impact yet on PC sales.

Gartner showed an 9.6% decline in PC shipments during the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago. with 64.8 million units. This was not only the sixth straight quarter for PC shipment declines but also the first since 2007 that the numbers went below 65 million units. Gartner added:

PCs are not being adopted in new households as they were in the past, especially in emerging markets. In these markets, smartphones are the priority. In the business segment, Gartner analysts said the Windows 10 refresh is expected to start toward the end of 2016.

IDC, which includes Chromebooks but excludes tablets with detachable keyboards such as Microsoft's Surface devices in its figures, showed an 11.5% decline in the first quarter, with 60.6 million units. It added that shipments to the U.S. went down 5.8% in that time period. IDC does see some light at the end of this tunnel:

"Demand for PCs in the U.S. remains sluggish," said IDC Research Director, Devices & Displays, Linn Huang. "However, we should be entering a period of reprieve. Peak corporate and education buying seasons have historically started in the second quarter. With some IT buyers thinking about early Windows 10 transitions and with the potential continued ascent of Chromebooks in U.S. K-12, the PC market should experience a modest rebound in the coming months."

35 Comments
  • What a surprise... PCs these days have so much power that buying a new one make sense only for gamers or professionals who needs really powerful PC. The average user is totally fine with even 10 year old PC with SSD upgrade and at least 4GB RAM. There really isn't any reason to buy a new one. :)
  • Yep, and the same is already happening with stale tablets. Send from a very fast, 5 year old, Corei5 business laptop with SSD running Window 10 Pro.  
  • Formfactor could be another trigger for a uptick in sales. There are happening some great things in the ultrabook and 2 in 1 space, that could move the needle a bit, but the competetion of iOS and Android is huge in that space (as for the average consumer a tablet/smartphone combo might suffice).  In the desktop space a 5 year old high end configuration is capable enough to do almost every task imaginable, there is absolutely no incentive to buy a new desktop pc, especcially with Windows 10 being a free upgrade.    
  • Apparently for some reason, 2-in-1s are not being counted in these figures (says as much in the article); I guess they are not considered as PCs. But the last I heard, sales of 2-in-1s have been on the upswing and have even helped chip away at the tablet market share. Considering that almost every 2-in-1 on the market runs Windows...
  • I beleive the Gartner numbers do reflect 2-in-1s (Gartner calls them "ultramobile premium" devices), IDC's numbers do not. This is one reason given for the difference in the Gartner and IDC numbers. Even with ultramobile premium devices included Gartners numbers paint a pretty bleak picture for the Windows PC market right now.
  • Not only that, but desktop users like myself only upgrade their PCs and don't buy new ones.
  • That is interesting actually. I do build my desktop from components I buy, so PC like that will never appear in statistics I suppose. So it may not be as bad as it seems to be. The true power of windows/Linux is freedom in HW which in desktops is basically limitless.
  • Well, builders and modders are a slim piece of the PC pie I'd imagine, but yeah--component and software licensing metrics would give you a little better picture.
  • Exactly. That's is something very obvious but for some reason not widely known. 
  • Gamers don't even buy new ones nearly as often anymore. I know a TON of people with really nice gaming setups still getting along just fine with Sandy Bridge i7s.  
  • Yes, but they still upgrade GPUs at least. I forgot that upgrades are not counted in, even when gaming grid upgrade can cost more than average laptop. :)
  • Yep...I have an 8 year old Dell XPS running windows 10. Works well for just checking email and surfing the web. Don't play games. But I do understand if playing games, newer pc's are good to have.
  • As a power user I upgrade my PC every 5 years, but I agree with you that non power users can wait longer, my father's PC is still using Windows XP and only has 2GB of RAM but it still gets 9000 Octane V2 results which means is more powerful than 95% of smartphones out there. Even my 2015 Xperia M4 midrange from Sony does not get more than 3500. 
  • Lol im still using an m18x r2 but with my recent try at playing NFS on it I might need to upgrade to new mxm cards to last me a few more years(especially now that you cant do as much with recent iterations starting with haswell)
  • I just bought a Surface Pro 4. I can't see myself ever buying a computer that isn't a 2-in-1 from here on out.
  • They include Chromebooks, but not Surface devices?  Seems silly, especially if they're not including the Surface Pro line, considering the power of these devices is on par with laptops.
  • Also, seeing as PCs haven't made any great leaps vs cost recently, most people probably hang onto them alot longer.  Compared to a phone I change out every 2 years, My PC is about 6 years old.  Even my tablet is 3 years old.  But mobile has a higher replacement rate, since the tech changes alot in a short time.  Every year is a better, more efficient processor in a smaller size; a better faster camera; etc.  Also, the general public doesn't even use anything beyond Facebook/e-mail/websurfing, which they do on their phones.  They also probably only backup photos on the cloud, also through their phones, which are typically subsidized through their carriers.  So they're not going to shell out several hundred dollars in one shot for something they barely use, even if they're putting it on a credit card, it's a mental thing.  People seem to think $25 / mo for 24 months is less than $600.  I've caught myself in that trap before, it's hard not to do, and the carriers all capitalize on it.
  • They don't include any windows 2in1 or windows tablet... And sales from them aren't included in mobile market share either! Seems like some companies want to fudge the figures, to make it look like windows is dying!
  • I did re-read the article, and it says IDC doesn't include them, but it doesn't mention this with Gartner.  Which could account for at least part of the over 4 million difference.  Maybe?
  • IDC sticks Windows 2 in 1s in the tablet category while Gartner counts them with PCs.
  • when they bring holograms to PC then they'll sell :p PS. By holograms I mean real holograms not the HoloLens Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • As a recruiter its depressing the amount of kids coming into the workforce who only know chromebooks and are absolutely useless to any real business. Can you use excel and word? No, so Ill only get basic function out of you at best. Stop wasting mine and everyones time.
  • Using Word and Excel is stuff you can pick up using in a matter of weeks, if not days.   It's not that big a deal.  It's highly trainable, with any off the shelf 'For Dummies' book.
     
  • And California will soon force you to pay them $15 an hour for their ignorance.
  • Same thing happened in the 90' s when Mac's where given out to grade schools. Kids didnt know how to use a real Computer when they got to college or work. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Drives me crazy that they still exclude windows tablets and 2in1's in the figures, but also don't factor them into mobile market share! :') when you factor that 2in1's are destroying the tablet market, and that they are all windows devices, you might just find that PC shipments are up! Guess it's good business for apple and google if someone makes it seem like windows is dying!
  • Sales do not = usage. The PC market is now a replacement market like TVs & Microwaves. 55% of all net usage is on Windows 15% on mac+ios & 25% on Android. PC gaming, video/audio/graphics editing, virtualization... Outside of those niche use cases that demand more performance, an 8 year old core 2 duo is perfectly fine! Replace the mechanical HD with a new SSD and you have a huge speed upgrade. What would PC sales look like on the short 1 1/2-2 year replacement cycle like smartphones due primarily to easy damage & carrier subsidies? Now the tablet market is facing the same market pressures of a mature market and smartphones will be next over the next couple years.
  • SO reading just a few comments I can tell we all realize that this is because our machines from 10 years ago are still powerful enough to warrent not being replaced.  I would also like to add that there will be a future article about a HUGE increase in tablet sales roughly 12 to 18 months after Apple stops updating iPad 2's. If the PC industry wants people to start buying desktops again then they really need to push VR and AR.  It's really the only reason to buy a new rig.  By 'Push' I mean start making their own VR devices, settle on a common platform (Windows 10 hopefully).  Try to 'plant' stories in the media about all the great things you can do with it (basically hype it like Apple does with their products).  Work with Video Card vendors and screen manufacturers to map out speed increases and resolution/FPS increases over the next 10 to 20 years and create desktops to meet those standards along the way.   I just Know VR is gonna be a big thing.  I think we all do.  It will have a cascading effect that could/should help desktop sales if manufacturers can just see it the way I do.   MS needs to set up a VR station in their stores showing Occulus and Vive and possibly Hololens so people can at least try them out (Best Buy too).  A year from now every kid age 12 to whatever is going to want a VR headset.  It would be wise if manufacturers started making 'VR ready' machines and advertised them as such.
  • Way too many manufacturers are chasing too few buyers.   There will need to be much more industry consolidation, with companies dropping out of the market, merging or being bought out by competitors.    At this point, the global market probably can't bare more than a handful of PC OEMs: Dell, Lenovo, HP, and then all the others probably all need to merge into a fourth or fifth large competitor, or drop out altogether.
  • Computer hardware isn't advancing as fast as it was say 10 years ago. My 5 year old PC can still handle current games with just a simple video card upgrade, my old laptop can still browse the internet and do other simple tasks just fine.
  • Good point, the future are external GPU support through Thunderbolt 3 dock attaced to your laptop, this is going to impact even more the decline in sales of gaming laptops.
  • I bought a Dell Inspiron 5548 11 months ago and I'm planning to keep it until 2020 for an upgrade, however in mid 2017 I'm planning to increase my RAM from 8GB to 16GB and replace my 1TB HDD to a 512GB SSD.
  • Chromebooks.  Perpetually potential.
  • And these stats demonstrate that Continuum is the way forward. 
  • These articles always make me shake my head. The goal is to show a steady decline of "PCs". In the years past that meant any computer running Windows. That of course changed when tablets, 2 in 1s and the surface started getting traction. So to keep the same article going each year the exclude the most popular windows devices. Which of course businesses and pretty much any nongame would find fit their needs better. Excluding the surface they are also typically cheaper. In our household we had 6 pcs (desktops). Now we have 2 gaming Desktops and 6 tablets. So in reality we have more Windows devices that before but this article would show we have 4 fewer.