PC decline longest in history, even Macs are struggling

13 Oct 2016

Decline. Image: MaxxiGo/Shutterstock

PC sales have fallen for eight consecutive quarters, the longest run in history as the mobile age leaves its footprint on the corpse of yesteryear. Mac popularity is falling, fast.

“Weak back-to-school demand.” “Ongoing low demand in the consumer market.” Gartner’s succinct, two-sentence review of what appears to be a dying industry.

PC sales

The desktop computer is already fading from view, with two years of solid decline underlined by an almost 12pc total fall in Lenovo, HP, Dell, Asus, Apple, Acer and all other manufacturers’ sales in the past year.

HP, Dell and Asus actually had marginal gains but, beyond the major operators, the drop was so dramatic that the entire industry is dragged down.

At the same time, smartphone sales continue to grow, though at an admittedly slower rate. Previously growing in double digits year-on-year, 2016 is expected to see a 7pc increase in sales this year, delivering 1.5bn devices to consumers. By the end of the decade, this figure will be near 2bn.

“There are two fundamental issues that have impacted PC market results: the extension of the lifetime of the PC caused by the excess of consumer devices, and weak PC consumer demand in emerging markets,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

Interestingly, Kitagawa cites a survey Gartner undertook lately that showed consumers in mature markets have, on average, three devices.

PC Sales

PC sales figures via Gartner

As the PC is “not a high priority”, upgrading them is not on the average Joe and Joanne’s agenda. “Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again,” said Kitagawa.

PC penetration remains slow in emerging markets as smartphones and phablets are considered the superior device for their needs.

Apple’s 3Q 2016 market share comes in at 6.7pc; down from 7.3pc in 3Q 2015 and sales down by 13.5pc. That leaves Apple the number five worldwide PC vendor after Lenovo, HP, Dell, and Asus.

Smartphones and phablets have reached 90pc penetration in many mature markets according to Gartner, with a slowdown in replacements and upgrades contributing to a slowdown in growth, though it is growth nonetheless.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic