Market-watcher International Data Corporation (IDC) has announced some rare good news for the traditional personal computer market, recording the first year-on-year quarterly growth in the past six years - albeit only by 0.7 percent.
That sales of traditional PCs have been in decline for some time has been no secret: The explosion of interest in smartphone and tablet devices and their increasing utility coupled with a lack of need for regular upgrades outside the enthusiast, gaming, and high-performance workstation markets mean that sales have been on a continued downward trend including IDC's 2013 reporting of the single biggest quarterly slump since it started tracking shipments in 1994. Reduced sales have hit companies hard, both traditional PC makers like Dell and component makers including AMD, Intel, and all hard drive manufacturers.
The latest report from IDC, though, has some rare good news for the industry: The first year-on-year quarterly growth recorded in the last six years. While the market as a whole ended the year down 0.2 percent - 'the most stable year the market has seen since 2011,' IDC crows - the fourth quarter of 2017 saw a 0.7 percent uptick compared to the same quarter the year prior.
'The fourth quarter results showed some potentially encouraging headway against the difficult environment in retail and consumer PCs,' says Jay Chou, research manager with IDC's Personal Computing Device Tracker division, of the results. 'Enticed by a growing array of products that promise all-day battery life, high portability, and address emerging use cases that require more compute power, pockets of the consumer base are taking a serious look at these revamped PCs. However, the overall PC market remains a challenging one.'
The bulk of the growth, IDC claims, came from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) regions, while Japan itself is highlighted as the overall winner with 3.8 percent growth for the quarter - 'due to rising demand from Windows 10 migration,' IDC's analysts opine. Three companies emerged as the primary winners, too, with HP growing its shipments 8.3 percent year-on-year, Apple 7.3 percent, and Dell 0.7 percent, while Lenovo's shipments remained static. All other companies, meanwhile, saw shipments fall, with Asus taking an 11.2 percent hit and Acer 8.1 percent while the 'all others' category slipped 2.2 percent.
As always, IDC's definition of 'Personal Computer' for the purposes of these statistics covers desktops, laptops, and convertible laptops, but not server products or pure-play tablet devices.