Shipments of PCs are definitely growing, for the first time in six years. Market research firms Gartner and IDC both agree that the PC market grew in the second quarter of 2018, with IDC claiming an increase of 2.7 percent and Gartner recording a more modest 1.4 percent of growth. IDC first revealed the PC market was starting to flatten and show potential growth last year, but both Gartner and IDC track PC shipments differently.
IDC’s data crucially includes Chromebooks and excludes Windows tablets including devices with a detachable keyboard like the Surface Pro. Gartner counts Windows-based tablets as PCs and excludes Chromebooks or any non-Windows-based tablets. Chromebooks appeared to be powering some PC growth last year, but now that Gartner is tracking overall growth it’s clear this is also from regular Windows PCs or Macs, and not just from Android tablets or Chromebooks. This is the first year-over-year PC shipment growth since the first quarter of 2012.
Windows 10 business PCs appear to be powering some of the growth. “PC shipment growth in the second quarter of 2018 was driven by demand in the business market, which was offset by declining shipments in the consumer segment,” says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “In the business segment, PC momentum will weaken in two years when the replacement peak for Windows 10 passes.”
IDC agrees that a business-driven refresh cycle is helping. “Although traditional PCs may not be the default device for many usage scenarios, the market continues to show pockets of resiliency as PC usage experience evolves and improves,” says Jay Chou, research manager at IDC. “Even certain types of desktops are seeing growth amid this business-driven refresh cycle.”
HP, Lenovo, Dell, Apple, and Acer all grew their PC businesses in the recent quarter, with competitors continuing to weaken. It’s clear that the top five manufacturers will continue to dominate the market as PC sales appear to be stabilizing after years of declines.