The last few years have brought seemingly constant news of the PC industry’s decline, but at least one market research firm has recorded that 2017 saw the most stable PC market since 2011.
IDC had predicted that PC manufacturers would see a 1.7 percent shipment decline during the Q4 period last year, but almost 70.6 million units were shipped—0.7 percent more than the fourth quarter of 2016. This is the first time shipments have rose over the holiday season in six years. There was also a 0.6 percent gain in the previous quarter, though the market did decline 3 percent in Q2 2017.
IDC did note that overall growth for 2017 was down, but only by 0.2 percent. It warns that while the fourth quarter was reason for encouragement, there’s still a way to go before things turn around. Demand continued to increase in Europe and the Middle East during Q4, but the US market performed below expectations during the quarter as mobile devices continued to dampen many consumers’ enthusiasm for new PCs.
"The fourth quarter results showed some potentially encouraging headway against the difficult environment in retail and consumer PCs," Jay Chou, research manager with IDC's Personal Computing Device Tracker, said in a statement. "Enticed by a growing array of products that promise all-day battery life, high portability, and address emerging use cases that require more compute power, pockets of the consumer base are taking a serious look at these revamped PCs. However, the overall PC market remains a challenging one."
A separate report from market research firm Gartner paints a more pessimistic picture. It states that the worldwide PC market fell 2 percent in Q4 2017, making it the 13th successive quarter in a row that shipments have declined. For the entirety of 2017, it puts the decrease at 2.8 percent. This marks the sixth year in a row that the market has fallen, according to Gartner.
What the companies do agree on is the top four worldwide PC vendors in 2017. It would have been all six, but Gartner thinks Asus beat Acer out of the fifth spot. The firm puts overall shipments at 262,537, while IDC puts it at 259,529.