- PC shipments in the first quarter of 2017 were either up or down, depending on whether you follow market trackers from IDC or Gartner. Both analyst firms released market trackers Tuesday, finding different trajectories for the market. IDC said worldwide shipments for traditional PCs totaled 60.3 million shipments in Q1, up slightly year-over-year. Gartner, however, said PC shipments in Q1 declined 2.4% year-over-year and were below 63 million units in a quarter for the first time since 2007.
- The discrepancy lies in how they track the market. IDC counts traditional as desktops, notebooks and workstations but does not includes tablets of x86 servers. On the other hand, Gartner includes desk-based PCs, notebook PCs and ultramobile options, such as Microsoft Surface, but does not count Chromebooks or iPads. When asked, Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said Windows tablets are considered because they can function as a PC when an external keyboard is attached. However, Chromebooks do not have the same computing capacity when compared to Windows and Mac.
- As for PC market leaders, both firms agree the top three vendors are HP Inc., Lenovo and Dell, but the vendors' place in the market differs. IDC says HP Inc., followed by Lenovo, led PC shipments in Q1, commanding 21.8% of the market. Meanwhile, Gartner says Lenovo led the market with 19.9% of shipments, trailed by HP Inc. Both firms agree Dell is the third leading vendor.
While it may seem like semantics comparing PC market trackers, the differences between Gartner's and IDC's estimates can dictate views of the overall market. Either way, the consensus remains the PC market has greatly declined over the years, facing steep competition from smartphones.
No longer is it certain that a consumers' first computing device will be a personal computer. More often consumers are starting to interact with and own smartphones long before investing in a computer.
In the same way, people are looking to replace aging computers with more agile pieces of technology that suit their needs, whether that is a tablet or a smartphone. Businesses, however, still demand PCs and will largely dictate who leads in the market. If a company becomes dissatisfied with a product, they could turn to one of the other vendors, potentially causing market disruption down the line.
Vendors in the market that are not already competitive in the enterprise space may struggle to gain a foothold in the market. Apple, for example, does not have a large presence in the enterprise, though IBM is a big fan of its Mac products. As the PC market dwindles or stagnates, Apple will likely struggle to gain more market share and eventually fall to the three leading vendors.