Despite some positive signs of stabilization, the global PC shipments declined on an annual basis for a 12th consecutive quarter in the third quarter, according to estimates published by market watchers Gartner and IDC.
Gartner (Stamford, Conn.) said total PC shipments — including desktops, notebooks, and premium ultramobile systems like Microsoft Surface — slipped to 67 million units in the third quarter, down 3.6 percent compared to the the third quarter of 2016.
Mika Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner, said in a press statement that there were signs of stabilization in key regions, including Europe, Japan and Latin America. But realtive strength in these regions was offset by a 10 percent year-over-year decline in shipment to the U.S. market, largely due to weak back-to-school sales, Kitagawa said.
"Business PC demand, led by Windows 10 upgrades, continued to drive PC shipments across all regions, but its refresh schedule varies by region," Kitagawa said. "The countries with stable economies, such as the U.S., have created a positive sentiment among businesses, especially for small and midsized businesses (SMBs), which are more vulnerable to external events, such as economic or political."
Kitagawa noted that ongoing component shortages — particularly for DRAM — took its toll on the consumer PC market because vendors generally pass higher components on to buyers. "We expect the DRAM shortage to continue to the end of 2018, but it will not be reflected in the final PC prices immediately," Kitagawa said.
Meanwhile, a separate report by IDC estimated that the traditional PC market decided by less than 1 percent in the third quarter compared to the third quarter of 2016, slightly better than the firm's forecast. IDC includes devices such as Chromebooks in the traditional PC market, but not tablets such as iPad.
Loren Loverde, a vice president at IDC, said the traditional PC market performed much as expected in the third quarter, though emerging markets rebounded slightly more than anticipated.
"The outlook for the fourth quarter remains cautious, likely with a small decline in volume for the quarter and the year," Loverde said. "The gains in emerging regions and potential for more commercial replacements represent some upside potential, although we continue to expect incremental declines in total shipments for the next few years."
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