When you take a quick look at the tech landscape of the past decade, it looks fairly clear that personal computers are on the decline. People are still spending plenty of time in front of screens, but they’re different ones: smartphones, tablets, and e-readers have largely taken over.
It’s possible, however, that the PC isn’t quite as close to extinction as we thought. According to the latest market research, worldwide shipments of PCs actually went up during the second quarter of 2018, the first such increase that we’ve seen in six years.
Gartner found that worldwide shipments of PCs totaled 62.1 million during the past three months, an increase of 1.4 percent over the same time period a year earlier, and this rise was consistent across all regions of the world. Analysts explained that while the result is positive for the PC industry, it might not be time to declare a comeback just yet.
“PC shipment growth in the second quarter of 2018 was driven by demand in the business market, which was offset by declining shipments in the consumer segment,” Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said. “In the consumer space, the fundamental market structure, due to changes on PC user behavior, still remains, and continues to impact market growth. Consumers are using their smartphones for even more daily tasks, such as checking social media, calendaring, banking and shopping, which is reducing the need for a consumer PC.”
For now, though, the PC is doing all right. It’s not just one company—a wide range of vendors are enjoying success. Lenovo, fresh off a merger with Fujitsu, is in a virtual tie with HP as the world’s bestselling brand of PC. Those two are enjoying healthy year-over-year growth, and Dell has also been able to slow its recent decline and post strong sales in 2018.
The uptick is visible now, but there’s a good chance that the PC’s downfall continues before long. Many experts have speculated that the current sales results are due to people’s need to replace aging PCs and upgrade to Windows 10. Once that cycle is complete, sales may fall again.
“In the business segment, PC momentum will weaken in two years when the replacement peak for Windows 10 passes,” Kitagawa predicted. “PC vendors should look for ways to maintain growth in the business market as the Windows 10 upgrade cycle tails off.”