News & Analysis

Personal Computers Make a Comeback; Register Growth in 2019


Just when we were bemoaning the demise of Windows 7 and wondering how it will impact the personal computers over the coming months and years, here comes news that PC sales actually broke seven years of market contraction and registered year-on-year growth during 2019, albeit a single digit one.

According to data published by Gartner, PC shipments worldwide stood at 70.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2019, registering a 2.3 percent jump from the same quarter a year ago, with sales being driven by growing demand for Windows 10 upgrades that were essential to counter the end of support for Windows 7.

In a statement IDC said the worldwide market for traditional PCs, inclusive of desktops, notebooks, and workstations, finished an impressive 2019 with fourth quarter growth of 4.8% year over year with Ryan Reith, IDC’s program vice president of Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, calling it a wild year for the PC world.

“The market will still have its challenges ahead, but this year was a clear sign that PC demand is still there despite the continued insurgence of emerging form factors and the demand for mobile computing,” he says.

Global shipments during the quarter beat forecast expectations at just under 71.8 million units, the highest single quarter shipment volume in four years (4Q15). Overall, global shipments grew 2.7% year over year in 2019, the first full year of PC growth since the market grew 1.7% in 2011, the IDC statement says.

It must be mentioned here that while Gartner defines the PC market to include desk-based PCS, notebook PCs and ultramobile devices such as the Microsoft Surface while leaving out the iPads and Chromebooks, IDC numbers take into account desktops, notebooks including Chromebooks and workstations while excluding tablets and x86 servers.

“Contrasted against the ongoing weakness in consumer PC demand, business PC demand has led to unit growth in five of the last seven quarters,” says  Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at Gartner. “The ongoing Intel CPU shortage, which began mid-last year, became a major issue again on PC delivery to enterprise customers by the top three vendors. Without this shortage, shipments would have grown faster than the reported results.”

However, despite the chip constraints, the top three vendors increased their combined market share through 2019 to the highest level since Gartner began tracking PC data. Lenovo, HP Inc. and Dell accounted for nearly 65% of PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2019, up from just more than 61% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Giving company-wise details, the IDC study said Lenovo retained the top position and made further gains over 2018, finishing the market with a share of 24.3% while HP’s volumes grew by 4.8% in 2019 with strong fourth-quarter growth of 6.9%. Dell retained its position at number three with a 17.5% market share globally, registering a record high level of shipments during the holiday season in the last quarter of the year.

However, Apple had a bad time with the MacBook volumes declining in the fourth quarter by 5.3% year on year as the company shipped 4.7 million units. Apple’s continued momentum in the iPad and iPhone space have more than offset its challenges with Mac volumes, however. Shipment volumes were also down 2.2% for the full year 2019, the statement said.

The list was rounded off by Acer Group which stood fifth in the top-5 with 6.1% market share during the quarter and 6.4% for the year. Despite remaining in the top 5, Acer did see volumes decline 4.2% during 4Q19 and 4.6% for the year.

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