The numbers are in for global PC shipments in 2015, and they are in line with industry expectations. IDC reports that global PC shipments totaled 71.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015 (4Q15), translating into a year-on-year decline of 10.6 percent. Gartner’s numbers are a bit more optimistic, reporting global PC shipments of 75.7 million units in the 4Q15, dropping 8.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014. However, analysts expect the PC replacement market to pick up in 2016, delivering closer to flat growth for the year.
The International Data Corporation (IDC ) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker indicates that total shipments in 2015 resulted in the first year the market hit below 300 million units since 2008. It’s also the largest shipment decline in history, surpassing the decline of 9.8 percent in 2013. PC shipments in 2015 totaled 288.7 million units, according to Gartner, dropping eight percent from 2014.
“The fourth quarter of 2015 marked the fifth consecutive quarter of worldwide PC shipment decline,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “Holiday sales did not boost the overall PC shipments, hinting at changes to consumers’ PC purchase behavior. On the business side, Windows 10 generally received positive reviews, but as expected, Windows 10 migration was minor in the fourth quarter as many organizations were just starting their testing period.”
“All regions registered a decrease in shipments. Currency devaluation issues continued to impact EMEA, Latin America and Japan,” Kitagawa added. “Collectively EMEA, Japan and Latin America saw their markets reduced by nearly 10 percent in 2015.”
IDC analysts attribute the declines to several key challenges including longer PC lifecycles and competition from mobile phones and tablets, along with falling commodity prices and weak international currencies. Other contributors include social disruptions in EMEA and Asia/Pacific.
“Changes in the OS market also had a significant impact with the end of support for Windows XP and promotions of low-cost PCs driving a surge in replacements in 2014 that combined with the launch of Windows 10 and a free upgrade program to delay new system purchases in 2015,” said IDC.
The few bright spots is the potential for a faster commercial transition to Windows 10 and positive reviews for new products including slim, convertible, detachable and touch variations compared to traditional PCs, said IDC.
Adding detachable tablets, which are counted separately, to PC shipments would translate into year-on-year growth of -5 percent in the fourth quarter and -7.5 percent for 2015, according to IDC. As the detachable tablet market grows in 2016, it could increase earlier forecasts of PC growth in 2016 from -3.1 percent to growth of 1 to 2 percent.
Gartner’s Kitagawa expects PC shipments in 2016 to drop by one percent compared with 2015, “with the potential for a soft recovery in late 2016. The PC market is still in the middle of structural change which will reduce the PC installed base in the next few years.”
"The PC market remains competitive and the economic environment weakened further with the recent drop in the Chinese stock market," said Loren Loverde , IDC Vice President, Worldwide PC Tracker, in a statement. "However, PC replacements should pick up again in 2016, particularly later in the year. Commercial adoption of Windows 10 is expected to accelerate, and consumer buying should also stabilize by the second half of the year. Most PC users have delayed an upgrade, but can only maintain this for so long before facing security and performance issues. We continue to believe that a majority of these users will purchase another PC, motivated by new products and attractive pricing."
IDC’s vendor rankings show Lenovo holding onto the top spot for the quarter and all of 2015 with more than 20 percent market share in 2015. Rounding out the top five are HP, the number two vendor, which slightly outperformed the market; Dell, which maintained its number 3 position; ASUS, which outperformed the market and moved into the number four position; and Apple, which tied ASUS for the number 4 position.
Gartner reports similar rankings in the fourth quarter with Lenovo in the top spot, despite a PC shipment decline for the third consecutive quarter, followed by HP, Dell, ASUS, and Apple. The market research firm said the top six vendors – with the addition of Acer Group – accounted for 73.1 percent of shipments in 2015, up from 70. 4 percent shipments in 2014.