PC sales stumble in Q4 amid CPU shortages, China trade war

Gartner: Not a very merry Christmas for PC market as chip shortage bites, small biz vanishes

"Just when demand in the PC market started seeing positive results, a shortage of CPUs (central processing units) created supply chain issues", Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "The impact from the CPU shortage affected vendors' ability to fulfill demand created by business PC upgrades".

According to a quarterly report by IDC, traditional PC shipments, including desktop, notebook, and workstation, totalled just over 68.1 million units in the fourth quarter, a year-over-year decline of 3.7 percent.

Despite showing growth in the second and third quarters, Gartner said 2018 was the seventh year PC shipments experienced annual declines, though the 1.3 percent fall to 259 million units wasn't as bad as the previous three years.

The recent rise in PC sales was shortlived, and figures for the fourth quarter of a year ago show that we're back to our usual - either declining sales, or just being flat.

The global PC market returned to its familiar downward slope in the fourth quarter, according to preliminary numbers from market analysts.

The other trend was political and economic uncertainties in some countries dampening PC demand, Kitagawa said. This, the analyst firm believes, slightly outperformed the forecast of 4.7 percent, though, for the full year, PC shipments declined 0.4 percent year on year.

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This was due to a strong quarter in the United States for Lenovo, whereas HP suffered declines in shipments in most key regions - with Asia being the notable exception.

Apple's market share of 7.2 percent was a distant fourth, declining 3.8 percent on 4.9 million units shipped. Dell, in contrast, had the strongest year-over-year growth among the top five OEMs with a 1.6 percent increase in quarterly shipments.

HP was the market leader in 2017, with Lenovo being the top vendor for four consecutive years between 2013 and 2016.

Now that 2018 is past us, we finally have some data about PC sales during the holiday seasons, and they're not looking really good.

Gartner had more detailed results about the USA market, where Microsoft remains the top 5 PC manufacturer behind HP, Dell, Lenovo and Apple. "Holiday sales are no longer a major factor driving consumer demand for PCs".

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