PC sales continue to fall

For the eighth straight quarter, global PC sales have fallen – the longest duration of decline in the history of the computer

  • By Callum Glennen | Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Sales of PCs have fallen for eight quarters in a row, and look set to keep dropping for the foreseeable future

The global market for personal computers has seen a decline for the eighth straight quarter, according to preliminary results from a Gartner survey. The trend suggests a shrinking enthusiasm for new PCs as consumers prioritise other devices over replacing their main desktop machine.

According to preliminary results released by Gartner, worldwide PC shipments totalled 68.9m for the third quarter of 2016, a decline of 5.7 percent over the previous year. Gartner attributes these poor results to weak demand during the back-to-school period.

But, in terms of long-term decline, Gartner’s Mikako Kitagawa said the falling priority of the PC and low uptake in emerging markets are responsible.

While Apple and Microsoft have long championed a post-PC era, this isn’t because the PC is becoming less important

“According to our 2016 personal technology survey, the majority of consumers own and use at least three different types of device in mature markets. Among these, the PC is not a high-priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to. Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again.”

The trend is similar in emerging markets. While PC penetration is low, Kitagawa said people are instead choosing smartphones and phablets over a traditional computer.

While Apple and Microsoft have long championed a post-PC era, and push for tablet computer growth, this isn’t because the PC is becoming less important. PCs are still vital tools, but mobile phones have seen faster and more substantial update cycles, resulting in them capturing more of the average consumer’s money. For the basic tasks most people use PCs for, like word processing, a five-year-old computer is just as capable as a brand new machine, so people are just not upgrading them as much.

Along with a slowing market, PC manufacturers are also consolidating. According to Gartner’s research, the world’s top six PC vendors made up a record 78 percent of the total shipments. HP and Dell are the largest, together responsible for 53.7 percent of the world’s total shipments last quarter.