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No PC maker could escape the lull ahead of Windows 10 and Skylake

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The third quarter of 2015, if PC manufacturers have their way, will go down as the nadir preceding a rapid ascent back to prosperity. Everything is in place with Intel's and Microsoft's most significant upgrades in years aligning perfectly this fall to drive a revival in PC sales. And a revival is definitely needed, with both Gartner and IDC releasing figures today showing universal drops in shipments across both manufacturers and geographies. Basically, anyone selling PCs — Apple's Mac line included — was having a harder time doing it over the past three months than in the same period a year earlier.

gartner
Source: Gartner, October 2015

Dell has grown its global market share just by standing still, according to both IDC and Gartner. Where the two market reports differ is in the severity of the slump, as IDC sees declines for Dell and Apple along with everyone else, whereas Gartner believes those two companies have improved by a slight margin. The more optimistic Gartner analysis still sees a major 7.7 drop in demand for PCs over the past three months, while IDC puts that number at 10.8 percent. Lenovo had, until recently, been able to buck the market trend and continue growing, but the world's biggest vendor is now in pretty much the same boat as everyone else.

Hopes for a near-future rebound appear justified

With a flood of Windows 10 devices incoming, most manufacturers will be hoping they'll be able to make up the Q3 malaise with a bumper Q4. Microsoft has certainly done its part to stimulate interest with its successful hardware event this week, though how much of the Surface hype will transfer on to the likes of Acer and Asus is yet to be seen. Those two Taiwanese companies have been among the hardest-hit, with IDC and Gartner identifying them as suffering double-digit declines.

Windows 10's availability so far has been a double-edged sword for most PC manufacturers, as IDC points out that "many users opted to upgrade existing PCs rather than purchase new hardware." That's what a free OS upgrade will do. Currency fluctuations have also affected the market — a more valuable US dollar has forced prices up — alongside efforts to offload Windows 8 inventory ahead of the new computers running the latest software. Now that everyone's had the time to introduce more elegant, Intel Skylake-based solutions such as Dell's new XPS lineup, hopes for a near-future rebound appear justified.