Gartner & IDC disagree on PC market's Q4 performance

A discrepancy has emerged between Gartner and IDC's views on the Q4 performance of the PC sector, although both crowned a Chinese manufacturer the market leader.

Gartner's figures suggest 83.7 million PCs were sold during the final quarter of 2014, which is one per cent higher than the number shipped in Q4 2014.

IDC, meanwhile, claims PC sales were actually down 2.4 per cent during the last three months of 2014 compared to the previous year, and that a little over 80 million units were sold.

As a result, Gartner said the PC market's Q4 performance showed a "slow, but consistent improvement following more than two years of decline".

IDC's summary is markedly starker and stated: "The final quarter... marked the end of yet another difficult year the third consecutive year with overall volumes declining."

The difference in figures can be attributed to the subtle variations in what devices both analyst houses include in their PC market trackers.

For example, IDC excludes handheld PCs or tablets (including Windows or Android models sporting detachable keyboards). Conversely, Gartner does include sales of Windows-based tablets in its market data, but not Chromebooks.

Despite this, there were a couple of areas in the results that both analysts agreed on, including the ongoing strength of the US PC market and that Lenovo is the manufacturer to beat across the globe.

Rajani Singh, senior research analyst for personal computing at IDC, said: "The US PC market continued to grow in the fourth quarter, outperforming the global market for the tenth consecutive quarter."

This is a trend IDC predicts will continue, thanks in no small part to the 2015 release of the Windows 10 operating system.

"The US consumer PC market will finally move to positive growth in 2015, strengthened by the slowdown in the tablet market, vendor and OEM efforts to rejuvenate the PC market, the launch of Windows 10, and replacement of older PCS," Singh added.

One area flagged by Gartner where PC sales seem to be flagging was emerging markets, which the analyst attributes to the popularity of smartphones and tablets.

Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said: "Mature regions show an ongoing trend of positive growth, but emerging markets remain weak.

"We attribute this weakness to a strong affinity for smartphones and tablets in those markets, while PCs are a low priority."

"Even low-priced notebooks struggle to succeed, because of the different mobile device usage patterns," Kitagawa added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.