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That uptick in the PC market? It’s not going to happen this year, predicts Gartner.

In a report issued today, the analyst firm says it expects total worldwide shipments of PCs to drop this year by 0.6%.

Last year, total worldwide shipments of PCs reached 259 million units. This year, Gartner predicts, that will fall to 258 million units.

Assuming that’s how things go, 2019 will be the 8th consecutive year of what Gartner calls a “standstill” for PC shipments.

By device sector, shipments of traditional PCs — that is, desktops and notebooks — will drop by an even greater 3%, Gartner predicts. That should mean total worldwide shipments of these devices declining from 195 million units last year to 189 million this year.

This cloud does have a silver lining. Gartner expects shipments of what it calls “premium ultramobiles” to increase this year by nearly 7%. That would raise total worldwide shipments of these devices from 64 million units last year to nearly 69 million this year.

Old PCs

What’s behind the numbers? One factor is aging PCs. Systems running Windows 7 remain in great numbers, and among both consumers and businesses. As of March, Win7 was still being run on nearly 40% of all desktops worldwide, according to NetMarketShare.

To be sure, these older systems are being retired by both consumers and businesses. But what these users do next is what really counts.

While consumers are retiring older PCs, many are not replacing them, according to Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.

Presumably, these consumers plan to get their computing needs met by tablets (some equipped with keyboards) and smartphones. For consumer applications such as social media, videos, games and texting, these devices are powerful enough.

New Windows

Businesses, by contrast, still need PCs, and many stragglers are now upgrading to Windows 10. As we’ve discussed, 2019 is the year to move, as Microsoft says it will end standard support of Windows 7 in January. After that, users can keep using Windows 7, but if they want security and other updates from Microsoft, they’ll have to pay for them.

Despite the Jan. 2020 deadline, some businesses are dragging their feet. For example, Gartner expects many businesses in China to delay their Win7-to-Win10 migrations until 2020. And even by 2021, the analyst firm expects, as many as 1 in 4 commercial PCs worldwide could still be running on the older version of Windows.


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