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Analysts on PC Market: Flat or Falling a Little

Gartner and IDC this week both released their reports on the worldwide PC market. It's a tale of two markets -- with neither of the stories being very happy.

Let's start with the better news. That would be from IDC, which found evidence of a flat market. That's right, this was the good news. IDC reported that worldwide there were some 60.4 million PCs sold in the January-to-March period.

That amounted to 0.0 percent growth over the year-ago quarter. The reason that's good news is that IDC had previously forecast a drop of 1.5 percent, so flat is better than declining.

IDC also found some green shoots related to Windows 10. In its discussion of the quarter, IDC noted that businesses are moving to Windows 10 at a steady clip.

Speaking of the U.S. market, Neha Mahajan, senior research analyst for Devices & Displays at IDC, stated, "The year kicked off with optimism returning to the U.S. PC market, especially on the notebook side. A likely rise in commercial activity amidst a positive economic environment is expected to further strengthen demand."

Overall, Jay Chou, research manager of IDC's Personal Computing Device Tracker, called the path that PCs are on "resilient" and predicted "modest commercial momentum through 2020."

Even that modest optimism was not evident in an assessment released on the same day by Gartner. Gartner, while calling the market as slightly larger at 61.7 million unit shipments for the quarter, reported a 1.4 percent decline in PC shipments for Q1.

Gartner Principal Analyst Mikako Kitagawa affixed the blame primarily to the Chinese market. "The major contributor to the decline came from China, where unit shipments declined 5.7 percent year over year," Kitagawa said in a statement. "This was driven by China's business market, where some state-owned and large enterprises postponed new purchases or upgrades, awaiting new policies and officials' reassignments after the session of the National People's Congress in early March."

Where IDC saw some modest improvements in the U.S. market, Gartner found red ink there, too, reporting a 2.9 percent decline in U.S. PC shipments from Q1 2017 to Q1 2018. In all, Gartner declared Q1 2018 the 14th consecutive quarter of decline going all the way back to the second quarter of 2012.

Posted by Scott Bekker on 04/13/2018 at 1:10 PM


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