Published: April 25th, 2017

IDC is reporting that worldwide shipments of traditional PCs (desktop, notebook, workstation) actually grew for the first time in five years.

Taken from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, the research firm found the PC market totaled 60.3 million units in the first quarter of 2017, posting year-over-year growth of 0.6 per cent.

The previous IDC forecast had expected shipments to decline 1.8 per cent in the quarter. And, while the 0.6 per cent growth was arguably flat, the result nonetheless represented the first foray back into positive territory since Q1 2012, when many users still considered PCs their first computing device.

Like the second half of 2016, some of the same forces continue to shape the market. Tight supplies of key components such as NAND and DRAM are affecting inventory dynamics and led a number of vendors to boost shipments to lock in supply ahead of further cost increases.

In addition, the market continued along a path of stabilization that began in the latter half of last year, especially as more commercial projects moved out of pilot mode and began shipments in earnest.

From a geographic perspective, mature markets again outdid emerging markets. All regions exceeded forecast except for the United States, although the U.S. posted just a slight decline. Despite the generally positive trends, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan)(APeJ) and Latin America continued to see year-over-year volume declines.

Jay Chou, research manager, IDC PCD Tracker, said the traditional PC market has been through a tough phase, with competition from tablets and smartphones as well as lengthening lifecycles pushing PC shipments down roughly 30 per cent from a peak in 2011.

“Nevertheless, users have generally delayed PC replacements rather than giving up PCs for other devices. The commercial market is beginning a replacement cycle that should drive growth throughout the forecast. Consumer demand will remain under pressure, although growth in segments like PC Gaming as well as rising saturation of tablets and smartphones will move the consumer market toward stabilization as well,” he said.

What led to the marginal growth?

HP Inc. took back the top spot for the first time since Q1 2013 after several quarters inching closer to Lenovo. The vendor has focused on building out a deep portfolio and saw a strong quarter in notebooks across all regions, according to IDC.

Lenovo held the second position with relative modest growth of 1.7 per cent globally. Lenovo had its first decline in the U.S. since Q3 2009, down 4.2 per cent year over year.

Dell captured the third position, grew 6.2 per cent year over year, and continued its positive growth in every region with strong notebook volume.

Apple kept the fourth position and grew 4.1 per cent year over year.

Acer regained the fifth position, growing 2.9 per cent in part due to better comparisons against a challenging 1Q16.