U.S. PC Shipments Rebound In Part Due To Booming Chromebooks

Market research firm Gartner offered up some preliminary data on the state of the PC, noting that worldwide shipments declined 5.2 percent to 64.3 million units in the second quarter of 2016. It's the the seventh consecutive quarter of PC shipment declines, but according to Gartner, there are signs that suggest the market is actually on the rebound. One of those signs is performance in North America.

The United States is the only region to see a much needed bump in PC shipments in the second quarter of 2016. It was a minor bump—a 1.4 percent increase to 15.2 million units in the U.S.—but an uptick nonetheless. Prior to the recent jump, PC shipments in the U.S. had declined for five consecutive quarters.

Lenovo Laptop

Another reason to be optimistic is because the second and third quarters are when people typically purchase new systems. With the second quarter showing some positive signs, there's hope that it will carry over to the third quarter as well.

"While vendors and channels generally have more optimistic expectations of PC sales compared with the past, there is still a chance to have a potential inventory built. This will depend on how PC market demand picks up in the second half of this year for both the business and consumer segments," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "The second and third quarter are typically PC buying season for the U.S. public sectors. Positive second-quarter results could suggest healthy PC sales activities among the public sectors. There is an opportunity for a Windows 10 refresh among businesses, which we expect to see more toward the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2017."

The number jockeys at International Data Corporation (IDC) reported similar findings, noting that worldwide PC shipments totaled 62.4 million units in the second quarter of 2016, marking a year-on-year drop of 4.5 percent. However, IDC was expecting a decline in the neighborhood of 7.4 percent.

Also like Gartner, IDC found that the U.S. was a hot spot for PC shipments, which it attributed to the strength of the U.S. dollar and relative market stability.

"The PC market continues to struggle as we wait for replacements to accelerate, along with some return of spending from phones, tablets, and other IT," said Loren Loverde, vice president, Worldwide PC Trackers & Forecasting. "Our long-term outlook remains cautions. However, the strong results in the U.S. offer a glimpse of what the market could look like with pockets of growth and a stronger overall environment. It's not dramatic growth, but it could push the market into positive territory slightly ahead of our forecast for 2018."


Beyond that, IDC called attention to Chromebooks, a class of laptop that Gartner doesn't include in its data. IDC does include Chromebooks and it noted that "as expected, the start of the peak of the education buying season helped generate large Chromebook shipment volumes in the U.S.," according to Linn Huang, research director, Devices & Displays at IDC.

Surprised? We are. In the past, Chromebooks have dominated Amazon's list of best selling laptops, but now just one model sits in the top ten, that being the Asus C200MA Chromebook at number five. The rest are low cost Windows laptops. Once you venture above the top ten, a few more Chromebook models sneak in, such as the Asus Chromebook Flip at number 11 and the Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ at number 14.

Both firms have Lenovo retaining its top spot in global PC market share, with IDC pegging it a 21.2 percent and Gartner at 20.5 percent. HP isn't far behind—it sits with a 20.8 percent share according to IDC, and a 19.1 percent share according to Gartner.