During Q3 2017, global personal computer shipments totaled 67 million. That sounds like an impressive number, but it represented a 3.6 percent decline year-over-year, according to market research firm Gartner. Further, it represented the 12th straight quarter of declining PC shipments.
According to Gartner, the global PC market did experience steady growth and some stabilization in key regions, including EMEA, Japan, and Latin America. But any growth or continuity experienced there was offset by massive declines in the U.S. Sales here declined 10 percent year-over-year during Q3 2017.
"Weak back-to-school sales were further evidence that traditional consumer PC demand drivers for PCs are no longer effective," Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "Business PC demand is stable in the U.S., but demand could slow down among SMBs due to PC price increases due to component shortages."
Only one PC manufacturer on the list of the top six saw growth year-over-year during Q3 2017, according to fresh (but preliminary) numbers from Gartner: HP Inc. The company’s 14.59 million shipments during Q3 2017 was a 4.4 percent increase over the 13.98 million shipped during the same timeframe last year. That led the segment in overall shipments and helped secure HP’s top spot for global market share this year.
Behind HP there wasn’t a lot of good news. Lenovo came in at number two during the quarter with 14.36 million shipments, but that was down 1.5 percent year-over year. Dell, which had the slightest decline (0.4 percent), shipped 10.15 million to come in at third on the list.
Among the hardest hit companies was Asus, which saw sales decline 9 percent during Q3 2017 to 4.89 million units. That was followed by Acer Group, which fell off 6.2 percent to 4.32 million units. Apple also took a hard hit, seeing Mac sales decline 5.6 percent to just over 4.61 million units.
Gartner didn’t offer much as far as guidance for Q4 and beyond. But given the longstanding trend of decline in the market, it’s safe to assume that PC shipments will continue to trend downward even as we approach the holiday shopping season. Beyond just the component issues that Ms. Kitagawa mentioned in the Gartner press release, the industry is going through a unique period where demand is decreasing but manufacturers are producing PCs that ship with premium price tags. It might be a strategy aimed at offsetting revenue declines (by milking more out of each individual sale), but brands run the risk of pricing consumers out of the market altogether.
Our own DS Index data shows that, over the past year, CE retailers have reported declining confidence in their ability to push the Laptop/Tablet market in their own stores. There was a slight bump up in confidence during September, which was likely due to back-to-school shopping. But since it peaked at 7.5 (on a scale of 1 to 10), confidence has fallen off nearly 2 points.