PC demand plummets in record-breaking 10% decline

Demand for PCs fell dramatically at the end of 2015, with shipments dropping a record 10.6 per cent year-on-year, according to analyst house IDC.

The fourth quarter of last year saw manufacturers sell 71.9 million PCs, IDC calculated, compared to 80.4 million in the same period of 2014.

HP (now HP Inc) experienced the starkest decline among the top four PC producers, at 10.1 per cent year-on-year, while Apple's sales figure for its OSX machines grew by 2.8 per cent.

Overall, the drop is the biggest in history, eclipsing the 9.8 per cent decline experienced in 2013, according to IDC's measurements.

Competition from mobiles and tablets, longer PC lifecycles, and weaker international currencies all conspired to produce the latest drop, IDC said.

However, the market remains competitive, said the analyst group's VP of its Worldwide PC Tracker, Loren Loverde.

She added: "PC replacements should pick up again in 2016, particularly later in the year. Commercial adoption of Windows 10 is expected to accelerate, and consumer buying should also stabilize by the second half of the year.

"Most PC users have delayed an upgrade, but can only maintain this for so long before facing security and performance issues. We continue to believe that a majority of these users will purchase another PC, motivated by new products and attractive pricing."

Rival analyst house Gartner, meanwhile, recorded slightly different figures for the ailing PC market, measuring a year-on-year decline of 8.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2015.

Saying total shipments added up to 75.7 million units, it said Christmas did not provide a boost for PC makers.

Principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said: "Holiday sales did not boost the overall PC shipments, hinting at changes to consumers' PC purchase behavior. On the business side, Windows 10 generally received positive reviews, but as expected, Windows 10 migration was minor in the fourth quarter as many organizations were just starting their testing period."

It predicts a further one per cent decline for PC shipments in 2016.

The difference in the analyst groups' figures can be explained by the shipments each monitors.

Gartner tracks desk-based PCs, notebook PCs, and ultramobile premium sales, while IDC counts desktops, portables, ultraslim notebooks, Chromebooks, and workstations.