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PC shipments return to growth in the US

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The PC industry has been in decline for more than two years, but last year there were early signs it was starting to stabilize. While we're still waiting for worldwide shipments to go positive, both IDC and Gartner report that PC shipments in the US have increased for the first time in more than a year. IDC reports that shipments have increased by 4.9 percent, and Gartner says they've risen by 1.4 percent.

The estimates differ because Gartner does not count Chromebooks as part of its figures, while IDC cites Google's laptops as a key reason for US growth. "As expected, the start of the peak education buying season helped generate large Chromebook shipment volumes in the US," says Linn Huang, research director at IDC. It's not surprising that Chromebooks are helping push the PC market back to growth in the US, and the low-cost laptops surpassed Apple's Mac sales for the first time in the US earlier this year.

Chromebook's good performance in the US will be a source of concern for Microsoft, especially with Google's plans to bring Android apps to Chrome OS. While Windows 10 alone hasn't stopped the PC sales decline yet, its clearly combining with Chromebook sales in the US to help return shipments to growth. Microsoft is planning to release its Anniversary Update to Windows 10 on August 2nd, and it's likely we'll see a number of hardware deals moving into the back to school season.

Worldwide, PC shipments are still on a decline. Gartner estimates a 5.2 percent drop, and IDC calculates around a 4.5 percent decrease in shipments. Microsoft's free Windows 10 upgrade comes to an end on July 29th, and IDC believes it may prompt some PC users into buying new machines. Gartner also forecasts a Windows 10 hardware refresh for businesses, that it expects to see "more toward the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2017."