SKYLAKE microprocessors from Intel, the sudden appearance of virtual reality (VR), and the launch of Nvidia 10-series graphics cards were insufficient to prize open wallets in the run-up to Christmas or, indeed, during much of 2016.
That's according to preliminary PC sales figures from the box counters at both Gartner and IDC who claim that PC sales fell throughout 2016, including the fourth quarter.
Total sales fell by 3.7 per cent in the three-month run-up to Christmas quarter, capping the fifth consecutive year of falling PC sales, according to Gartner.
Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, suggested that this is due to a fundamental change in PC buying behaviour.
"The broad PC market has been static as technology improvements have not been sufficient to drive real market growth," said Kitagawa.
He continued: "There have been innovative form factors like 2-in-1s and thin and light notebooks, as well as technology improvements, such as longer battery life. This end of the market has grown fast, led by engaged PC users who put high priority on PCs. However, the market driven by PC enthusiasts is not big enough to drive overall market growth."
Infrequent users of PCs, he added, are more likely to resort to a smartphone for applications that ten years ago they might have used a PC for, she suggested. As a result, the market will continue to decline in 2017 despite growth in sales among enthusiasts, gamers and in the business sector.
Despite the overall decline in the market in the fourth quarter, the top-three vendors increased both sales and market share at the expense of smaller vendors.
Lenovo remained the world's biggest PC and laptop maker, with a market share of 21.7 per cent in the fourth quarter and shipments up 1.6 per cent to 15.8 million. HP and Dell took second and third place respectively, with market share of 20.4 per cent and 14.8 per cent.
Both Asus and Acer experienced falling sales and market share, while Apple rebounded modestly following the long-overdue launch of new MacBooks, with unit shipments increasing 2.4 per cent to 5.4 million in the fourth quarter.
Globally, sales in 2016 were down by 6.2 per cent to 269.7 million unit shipments. Lenovo, HP and Dell maintained their respective top-three positions, while Asus, Apple and Acer saw unit shipments decline by 2.6 per cent, 8.7 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively.
The one bright spot over the year was a modest uptick in sales of business PCs due to Windows 10 migrations. Gartner claims that one-in-three businesses in Western Europe have started their Windows 10 deployments. µ
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