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Commercial PC sales help to reverse IDC’s negative forecast

PC market defies experts by recording growth of 0.6% after five years of decline

The traditional desktop, notebook and workstation PC market has done better than expected, growing by 0.6% in the first quarter of 2017.

IDC had previously forecast that the PC market would decline by 1.8%, but 60.3 million units were shipped in the quarter.

The PC market has been in decline since businesses and consumers began buying tablet devices.

While growth in Q1 2017 was more or less flat, IDC said the result represented PCs’ first foray back into positive territory since Q1 2012, when many users still considered PCs their first computing device.

IDC said tight supplies of key components such as NAND and DRAM had affected inventory dynamics and led a number of PC makers to boost shipments to lock in supply ahead of further cost rises. Also, the market continued along a path of stabilisation that began in the second half of last year, especially as more commercial projects moved out of pilot mode and began shipments in earnest.

“The traditional PC market has been through a tough phase, with competition from tablets and smartphones as well as lengthening lifecycles pushing PC shipments down roughly 30% from a peak in 2011,” said Jay Chou, research manager, IDC PCD Tracker.

“Nevertheless, users have generally delayed PC replacements rather than giving up PCs for other devices. The commercial market is beginning a replacement cycle that should drive growth throughout the forecast. Consumer demand will remain under pressure, although growth in segments like PC gaming, as well as rising saturation of tablets and smartphones, will move the consumer market towards stabilisation as well.”

Read more about desktop PCs

From a geographical perspective, mature markets again outdid emerging markets. All regions exceeded forecast except for the US, which posted a slight decline. In the US, commercial PCs fared better than the consumer sector, mostly backed by growth of Chromebooks, according to IDC.

The traditional PC market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) stabilised for the second consecutive quarter, said IDC. This was due to strong demand for notebook devices. The combination of backlogs, fulfilment from previous quarters and solid mobility demand in enterprises boosted overall notebook shipments in Q1 2017. However, desktops continued to erode, in line with expectations, it added.

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