PC makers shipped 75 million units in the first calendar quarter of 2014, down about 3 percent from the same quarter one year ago. But that's a much smaller drop than we've seen over the past several months, and the signs all point to a leveling off, probably this year. And although PC sales will remain level or fall slightly in the coming quarters, the dramatic PC collapse we've experienced for two years is effectively over.
"The PC market remains weak, but it is showing signs of improvement compared to last year," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said. "The U.S. saw the gradual recovery of PC spending as the impact of tablets faded."
"There is potential for PC shipments to stabilize, but not much opportunity for growth," IDC vice president Loren Loverde said. The firm believes PC sales will continue at "below zero" growth going forward.
This quarter represents the 8th straight in which worldwide PC shipments have declined. But PC sales were aided somewhat by what is perceived as a temporary impact of Windows XP upgraders that will continue throughout 2014 and a faster-than-expected slowdown of tablet sales. And oddly, four of the top five PC makers—Lenovo, HP, Dell, and ASUS—experienced unit shipment growth in the quarter. Only Acer, the number four PC maker, did not.
In the United States, PC sales actually increased to 14.2 million units, a jump of about 1 percent. But desktop PC sales experienced a bigger improvement of 3.5 percent, according to IDC (Gartner did not break out desktop and portable PC sales). This has been attributed to business PC upgrades as these firms finally retired Windows XP. In the US, the top three PC makers—HP, Dell and Lenovo—all experienced year over year growth as well. Apple and Toshiba did not, falling about 5.4 and 7.0 percent, respectively.