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PC market enjoys annual growth for first time in nine years

Both IDC and Gartner agree that last year was the best year for PC hardware since 2011

The PC market finished the year with a flourish delivering worldwide growth in the fourth quarter, according to the leading analyst houses.

Both IDC and Gartner have shared their analysis of the PC market in Q4 with the former pointing to a 4.8% year-on-year improvement and the latter a more modest climb of 2.3%.

That helped the market complete 2019 with a growth rate in shipments of 2.7% for IDC and 0.6% for Gartner, when compared with the prior year. That makes it the first year since 2011 when the market has seen a positive 12 months.

The enterprise PC market helped the hardware segment bring in its first growth for nine years with users looking to upgrade to more up-to-date hardware and move away from Windows 7, which had its support from Microsoft turned off today.

“The PC market experienced growth for the first time since 2011, driven by vibrant business demand for Windows 10 upgrades, particularly in the US, EMEA and Japan,” said Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at Gartner.

“We expect this growth to continue through this year even after Windows 7 support comes to an end this month, as many businesses in emerging regions such as China, Eurasia and the emerging Asia/Pacific have not yet upgraded," she added.

Intel's CPU shortages have plagued the market throughout 2019 and the feeling is that if those been resolved the growth numbers might have been even higher.

“Contrasted against the ongoing weakness in consumer PC demand, business PC demand has led to unit growth in five of the last seven quarters,” she added “The ongoing Intel CPU shortage, which began mid-last year, became a major issue again on PC delivery to enterprise customers by the top three vendors. Without this shortage, shipments would have grown faster than the reported results.”

Gartner also highlighted the uncertainty around Brexit as one of the reasons why some PC investments had been delayed in the UK. The analyst house found that PC shipments in EMEA increased 3.6% year on year in the fourth quarter, with the Windows 10 upgrade driving a lot of movement across Western Europe.

Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, said that 2019 had been a, "wild one in the PC world, which resulted in impressive market growth that ultimately ended seven consecutive years of market contraction".

"The market will still have its challenges ahead, but this year was a clear sign that PC demand is still there despite the continued insurgence of emerging form factors and the demand for mobile computing," he added.

There were some warnings that the Windows 10 upgrade would not last throughout the year ahead but there were already some other reasons that resellers could suggest to users as prompts to invest in fresh hardware. These included providing hardware that could exploit 5G and the availability of more dual and folding screen devices.

From a vendor point of view both analyst houses agreed that the top three were: Lenovo, HP and Dell.   

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