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Like the last day of a summer cold, the PC market is bad, but not as bad as it was.

According to a new report from market watcher IDC, worldwide PC shipments in the second quarter of this year totaled 60.5 million units. That’s a year-on-year decline of 3.3 percent. Not good, but better than IDC’s earlier estimate of 3.9 percent.

“The global PC market has continued to trend toward stabilization,” said Jay Chou, a research manager at IDC.

Meanwhile, Gartner defines the PC market somewhat differently, but also believes the PC business declined. In its latest report, the research and advisory company says a total of 61.1 million PCs were shipped in Q2, marking a year-on-year decline of 4.3 percent.

As Gartner points out, that makes Q2:17 the 11th consecutive quarter of declines in PC shipments worldwide. It’s also the lowest number of PCs shipped since 2007.

“Higher PC prices due to the impact of component shortages for DRAM, solid state drives and LCD panels had a pronounced negative impact on PC demand in the second quarter of 2017,” said Mikako Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner.

U.S. looking better?

Fortunately for those of us in the United States, the local market did better in Q2, at least according to IDC. The market watcher says total U.S. PC shipments fell by only 0.4 percent in Q2.

Gartner, however, says U.S. PC shipments totaled 14 million units in Q2, for a decline of 5.7 percent, worse than the worldwide rate.

Why the big discrepancy? Because the 2 companies define the market differently. IDC defines PCs as desktops, notebooks, workstations and Chromebooks; but IDC does not include tablets or 2-in-1s. Gartner, on the other hand, does include 2-in-1s, which it calls “ultramobile premiums,” but does not include Chromebooks.

Vendors & bright spots

Both Gartner and IDC agree that the top 5 vendors worldwide are, in order: HP, Lenovo, Dell, Apple and ASUS. HP held its No. 1 position for the second quarter in a row. And ASUS pushed out Acer for the No. 5 spot.

One bright spot in the market is Chromebooks. Gartner points out that last year, global Chromebook shipments grew 38 percent while the overall PC market declined 6 percent. And IDC points to strong Chromebook sales to K-12 schools as one reason the U.S. market looks relatively strong in this latest quarter.

So could Chromebooks replace PCs? Unlikely, says Gartner, unless the devices gain more affordable mobile connectivity and significant offline capabilities.

Overall IT market

All this PC turmoil comes in marked contrast to the overall information-technology business. Worldwide IT sales will total $3.5 trillion this year, predicts Gartner, for a year-on-year rise of 2.4 percent.

That’s even better than Gartner had expected earlier, when it forecast a rise of just 1.4 percent. Why the change? The weak U.S. dollar, mainly.

Here’s how Gartner sees the worldwide 2017 IT market shaping up by sector:

> Communications services: Global sales will total $1.38 trillion this year, up over last year by 0.3 percent

> IT services: $922 billion, up 3.1 percent

> Devices: $654 billion, up 3.8 percent

> Enterprise software: $351 billion, up 7.6 percent

> Data center systems: $171 billion, up 0.3 percent

“Digital business is having a profound effect on the way business is done and how it is supported,” said John-David Lovelock, a Gartner VP. He isn’t kidding.


Also see:

VR-ready PCs are coming. Just be ready to pay the price

Why your PC product mix should now include 2-in-1s

How Intel & Microsoft would make your customers’ PCs run faster, easier


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