2016 was the fifth consecutive year of declining PC sales, with the market having shrunk back to 2007 levels. In those five years sales have fallen by almost 25% compared to 2011’s all-time sales record of 353 million units.
About the only good news is that 2016’s decline was less than 2015’s. The overall effect is more pain for PC manufacturers.
Lenovo edged out HP as the number one seller, with Dell in a comfortable third place. All three increased their share of the market, with the top three being responsible for 56% of all sales. Unsurprising based on their high-volume, low profit enterprise sales focus.
For the remaining players things look bleak. Worst hit is Acer – number two in sales as recently as 2010, the company has seen volume fall from 48m to 18m – accounting for almost half the fall off in sales all by itself. Apple managed to outshrink the overall market too – although higher selling prices mostly offset the pain.
With the market continuing to shrink (and far below IDC’s 2012 forecast of 500m sales in 2016) it seems all the more likely that vendors are going to have to follow Apple’s lead and trade volume for profitability. The only problem is that customers looking to buy premium will usually plump for an Apple device. However being able to target some premium niches (games machines for example) is allowing some OEMs to take a slice of the high value pie.
Predictions for the PC market in 2017 are dangerous – the uncertainties caused by 2016’s political upheavals don’t suggest large investments in new technology from enterprises and more caution on the part of consumers.
That certainly doesn’t suggest a return to growth to me.