Global PC Sales Continue To Slump

John Lister's picture

Worldwide PC sales have fallen to their lowest level in almost a decade according to new estimates. It's also now four years since sales rose year-on-year.

The figures come from analyst Gartner, which gathers together data from a range of sources. Strictly speaking, it estimates shipments to retailers rather than actual sales to consumers and businesses. That can have a lag effect, but doesn't affect overall trends - over the long run, sales affect how many units retailers order. (Source:

According to the company, shipments between January and March this year totaled 64.8 million. That's 9.6 percent lower than the same period last year, and the lowest figure since 2007.

It's part of a long-term trend: sales have fallen consistently over the past year and a half, and the last time year-on-year sales rose to any significant degree was 2012. (Source:

Global Finances Hurt Sales

Garner says the pattern is partly caused by global financial issues. It points to a big decline in shipments from US manufacturers to other countries, partly because foreign currencies have weakened against the dollar, and partly because heavily populated markets like South America and Russia have experienced economic slowdowns.

Technology is also playing a part. Gartner believes that it used to be the case that as a country got richer, people would buy a computer for the first time, boosting worldwide numbers. Now many people who get together enough cash to spend on computing will upgrade from a basic cellphone to a smartphone rather than get a traditional PC. It's also possible that in richer nations, people may now buy a tablet where they'd previously have bought a laptop as a second machine in their home.

Windows 10 No Magic Bullet

Another notable factor is that Windows 10 has yet to boost PC sales in the way previous systems have done. That may well be because, driver issues aside, Windows 10 works on most existing PCs and thus people are less likely to feel their machine is outdated and needs replacing.

In particular, more expensive models aimed at businesses seem to have taken a hit, with corporate buyers being particularly wary of Windows 10 and waiting to see what fixes and improvements are made before upgrading an office network. That's made more complicated by the new Microsoft policy of frequent updates rather than the more definitive step of a first Service Pack that some business users took as the point at which an upgrade became a safer bet.

What's Your Opinion?

When did you buy your last PC? Do you have firm plans to buy one in the future? Have your buying patterns changed over time?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I haven't upgraded my PC since 2009 - there really hasn't been any need to. It's a quad core q9550 CPU and it has 8GB of RAM and 2 x 256 GB SSD hard drives running in tandem (RAID 0) with an AMD 5770 graphics card. The motherboard is rock solid with Japanese capacitors, so I expect it to last a very, very long time. I don't play games on my PC, though I could; for everyday usage it's plenty fine.

As for the PC sales trend slowing - I don't expect that to change for a very long time, if ever. Smartphones have pretty much replaced PCs for very simple tasks (reading emails, messaging, casual browsing, fact checking, etc), and now android TV boxes are becoming increasingly popular as an option to not only turn a TV into a Smart TV, but also as a mini computer that runs Linux.

As for Windows 10 - it's getting better, but it's no reason to go buy a new PC unless you feel the need to upgrade, and/or your current PC can't handle the upgrade.

eric's picture

you're so right about smartphone/tablet overtaking PC and laptop market.
it won't be take another decade for the PC market to be 90+% for businesses. With tablets like the Surface and other similar Windows tablets, i think the laptop market will greatly decline when the price for said tablet PCs comes down to sub $500 average.
Ever since my first Android phone, I have dreamed of the "single device" setup (as i like to call it.)
Think of the Padfone tablet dock system, except with full size monitor and accessories instead.
If we could somehow get the majority of phone manufacturers to have a uniform system of port placement, we could have universal docking systems available.
Imagine a professional who arrives at work, and drops his/her phone into the dock slot on the back of a 27 inch monitor. Then, they take the same phone with a 10inch tablet dock on the train, to home to continue work on their home full size dock. And they have instant access to all the data data, same setup, regardless of where they are; because who doesn't have their phone with them at all times?
I honestly don't understand why we haven't seen this already.
This system would invalidate probably 70% of the entire PC market; desktop and laptop, business and consumer.
PCs will be relegated to a very minor percentage of users who require specialized, intensive applications.
The latest phones, with 8core processors and 4GB ram, are already comparable in computing power to the average enterprise workstation PC.

o/t I thought RAID on SSD was a no-no?