PC Sales Have Nosedived for the Last Half-Decade
Ashley Allen / 4 years ago
Sales of PCs have been suffering for years now, with smartphones and tablets blamed for taking a huge slice out of the hardware’s market share, and the home computer’s record has just hit a new low. For the fifth year in a row, PC sales have declined, marking an unbroken annual trend since 2012, according to analysts Gartner.
“Worldwide PC shipments totaled 72.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016,” Gartner reports, “a 3.7 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2015, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. For the year, 2016 PC shipments totaled 269.7 million units, a 6.2 percent decline from 2015. PC shipments have declined annually since 2012.”
“Stagnation in the PC market continued into the fourth quarter of 2016 as holiday sales were generally weak due to the fundamental change in PC buying behavior,” Mikako Kitagawa, Principal Analyst at Gartner, said. “The broad PC market has been static as technology improvements have not been sufficient to drive real market growth. There have been innovative form factors like 2-in-1s and thin and light notebooks, as well as technology improvements, such as longer battery life. This end of the market has grown fast, led by engaged PC users who put high priority on PCs. However, the market driven by PC enthusiasts is not big enough to drive overall market growth.”
“There is the other side of the PC market, where PCs are infrequently used,” Kitagawa added. “Consumers in this segment have high dependency on smartphones, so they stretch PC life cycles longer. This side of the market is much bigger than the PC enthusiast segment; thus, steep declines in the infrequent PC user market offset the fast growth of the PC enthusiast market.”
While the trend looks scary, this fall in PC sales follows a huge increase in sales in 2011 – a massive 365 million units were sold that year – which does skew the numbers somewhat, and though sales are still suffering they are also stabilising. While the recurrence of previous growth seems unlikely, that does not mean that the PC industry is in a bad way. Should the sales continue to slide, though, the home computer market could be begin to look unhealthy.