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Report: PC Market (Barely) Breaks Years-Long Slump

The PC market made an unexpected, if small, comeback in the first quarter, with shipments growing for the first time in five years, according to recent data from market researcher IDC.

Just over 60 million PC units shipped worldwide during the period, representing a year-over-year growth of 0.6 percent. In another twist, Lenovo, which had held the position of top PC vendor for four years, lost its lead to HP.

While the increase in PC shipments may be negligible, it's an improvement over IDC's initial projected decline of 1.8 percent. The growth is particularly surprising, given that the beginning of the year is historically slow for PC sales.

Jay Chou, research manager of IDC's PC Tracker reports, noted in a statement that competition from tablets and smartphones, along with longer PC lifecycles, have pushed PC shipments down 30 percent since their peak at the end of 2011. However, he disputed the notion that those devices are the reason for the declining growth.

"Users have generally delayed PC replacements rather than giving up PCs for other devices," Chou stated. "The commercial market is beginning a replacement cycle that should drive growth throughout the forecast. Consumer demand will remain under pressure, although growth in segments like PC gaming as well as rising saturation of tablets and smartphones will move the consumer market toward stabilization."

The report noted strong demand for Chromebooks, as well.

It should be noted that the U.S. market did not contribute to the first uptick in global PC shipments since 2012. According to IDC, the overall PC market in the United States declined slightly to 13.3 million units shipped.

What did appear to be a contributor to last quarter's surprise surge was HP, whose shipments for the quarter rose 13.1 percent, enough to make it the market-leading supplier of PCs for the first time since 2013. HP captured 21.8 percent of the market in the first quarter, shipping 13.1 million units. That's compared to 11.6 million units shipped during the same period last year, when it had just 19.4 percent of the market.

Lenovo, now No. 2, shipped 12.3 million units, giving it a 20.4 percent share of the market.

Dell, the No. 3 supplier, saw a 6.2 percent growth with 9.6 million units shipped. Apple came in fourth with 4.2 million shipments, up 4.1 percent. In fifth place was Acer, whose shipments increased by 2.9 percent to 4.1 million systems.

Outside the five top players, the rest, lumped together as "other" in IDC's report, saw an 11.4 percent decline.  

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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