Why it matters: With its third consecutive quarter of sales growth, the PC market saw over 70 million units shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2019. According to figures from market research firms IDC and Gartner, this performance represents consistent growth of the PC industry for the first time in eight years, with the top three spots held by Lenovo, HP, and Dell, respectively.
It's been a long time coming, but the PC industry seems to have finally ended its declining sales business, recording positive growth in all but one of 2019's fiscal quarters.
Both IDC and Gartner recently published PC shipment figures with each analyst firm having a slightly varying definition of the industry. While IDC accounts for workstations, desktops, and notebooks (including Chromebooks) in its data, it excludes tablets and x86 servers, whereas Gartner's data includes "desk-based PCs, notebook PCs and ultramobile premiums (such as Microsoft Surface), but not Chromebooks or iPads."
In terms of quarterly sales, IDC puts shipments at 71.8 million units corresponding to a 4.8 percent growth, compared to Gartner's figure of 70.6 million shipped units and a 2.3 percent QoQ increase.
Both firms also noted the negative impact of Intel's CPU shortages on the industry, which according to IDC, received some relief from AMD CPUs.
For the full year, IDC notes 266.69 million units shipped with a 2.7 percent yearly increase, compared to Gartner's 261.2 million figure for 2019 and a 0.6 percent YoY growth.
"The PC market experienced growth for the first time since 2011, driven by vibrant business demand for Windows 10 upgrades, particularly in the U.S., EMEA and Japan," said Gartner analyst, Mikako Kitagawa, while IDC also cited "hardware renewals related to Windows 10 migration and end-of-year budget spending" for the positive turnaround.
Despite the overall growth of the PC market with Lenovo, HP, and Dell coming in at the top three, Apple and Acer suffered a decline in shipments. For Cupertino, however, IDC notes that the "continued momentum in the iPad and iPhone space have more than offset its challenges with Mac volumes."
With that said, both firms see a challenging road ahead for the industry, citing newer technologies like 5G and innovative foldable PCs as key factors in enabling sustainable growth. "Such innovations that change user behavior and create new product segments are something to keep an eye on in 2020 and beyond," noted Ms. Kitagawa.