By Brian Womack at Bloomberg
Worldwide personal-computer shipments dropped 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter, ending the year at fewer than 300 million units for the first time since 2008, researcher Gartner Inc. said.
PC manufacturers shipped 75.7 million machines in the fourth quarter compared with about 82.6 million a year earlier, Gartner said Tuesday in a statement. Sales sank 3.1 percent in the U.S. to 16.9 million in the quarter. Researcher IDC reported similar declines in the industry.
Shipments have declined every year since a peak of more than 360 million in 2011 as more consumers turn to smartphones and tablets when they want to post on Twitter, send an e-mail or write a document. Gartner forecasts a fall of 1 percent in 2016 with the potential of a soft recovery later in the year.
“The fourth quarter of 2015 marked the fifth consecutive quarter of worldwide PC shipment decline,” said Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. “Holiday sales did not boost the overall PC shipments, hinting at changes to consumers’ PC purchase behavior.”
Lenovo Group Ltd. retained its leadership with 20 percent of the global market in the fourth quarter, even as the company’s shipments dropped 4.2 percent, Gartner said. Apple Inc. posted a gain as the No. 5 player. Both had the biggest increases in U.S. shipments among the top five companies.
HP Inc., the No. 2 global PC maker, increased its market share slightly to almost 19 percent. The company maintained its top position in the U.S., with 27 percent of the market, despite a decline of 8.4 percent in fourth-quarter shipments. Global No. 3 Dell Inc. increased its global market share to 13.5 percent from 13.1 percent.
Challenges with the economy and a strong U.S. dollar hampered overseas sales, according to Jay Chou, research manager at IDC. The decline in PC sales may slow in 2016, with IDC projecting a fall of 3.1 percent compared with 10 percent drop in 2015. Greater commercial adoption of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 10 operating system may help stabilize sales, he said.
“We expect things to moderate more,” Chou said. “It’s still a largely replacement-driven market.”