Worldwide PC shipments appear to be slowly recovering after more than two years of decline. Market research firm Gartner says fourth quarter PC shipments grew by 1 percent during the popular holiday shopping season. "The PC market is quietly stabilizing after the installed base reduction driven by users diversifying their device portfolios," says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Now that tablets have mostly penetrated some key markets, consumer spending is slowly shifting back to PCs."
Overall, Gartner says 83.7 million units were shipped between October and December last year, with the US showing the highest growth in the quarter. Lenovo held the top spot once again, but HP’s impressive growth means the gap is closing. The top five PC vendors — Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer, and Asus — all experienced growth during the quarter by taking market share from other PC makers. While Gartner claims there’s small growth, fellow research firm IDC disagrees. IDC claims 80.8 million units were shipped in Q4, a difference of 2.9 million to Gartner’s higher shipment numbers.
IDC and Gartner disagree over shipment numbers
IDC agrees the top PC makers all saw growth in the quarter, but that overall the industry saw a 2.4 percent decline year-over-year. "Growth of Chrome, Bing, all-in-ones, ultraslim, convertibles, and touch systems similarly make PCs more compelling and competitive," says IDC’s Loren Loverde. "Nevertheless, some of the gains are relatively small, and weakening drivers like Bing promotions and end of XP support transitions, cast a shadow of doubt on the strength of the market going into 2015."
The difference in opinions and numbers is likely related to the way IDC and Gartner count PC shipments. IDC's data includes Chromebooks and excludes Windows tablets, even machines with a detachable keyboard like the Surface Pro 3. Gartner counts Windows-based tablets as PCs and excludes Chromebooks or any non-Windows-based tablets. IDC also claims Apple is the fifth top PC maker, while Gartner believes Asus takes the spot. Either way, both research firms agree the PC market is finally stabilizing and is poised for growth. That’s a good thing as 2015 is probably the year you should consider buying a new laptop.