Demand for personal-computers rose over the holiday season for the first time in six years, buoyed by commercial upgrades and pockets of improving consumer demand.
Although shipments declined slightly overall in 2017, it still marked the most stable year the market has seen since 2011, IDC said in a report Thursday.
PC manufacturers shipped 70.6 million units in the fourth quarter, compared with 70.1 million a year earlier and beating IDC’s own forecast for a 1.7 percent decline. The increase, which follows a 0.6 percent gain in the prior quarter, paints a modestly rosier picture for PC makers who are struggling to compete against smartphones and tablets. The global market shrank 3 percent in the second quarter of 2017.
“Enticed by a growing array of products that promise all-day battery life, high portability, and address emerging use cases that require more compute power, pockets of the consumer base are taking a serious look at these revamped PCs,” Jay Chou, a research manager at IDC, said in the statement.
While consumer demand continued to gain in Europe and the Middle East, U.S. shipments declined as notebook and desktop sales receded, showing mobile devices still have a strong hold on the American customer.
HP Inc. widened its lead as the top global supplier, with a 23.5 percent share of the market, IDC said. The company shipped 16.6 million PCs, an 8.3 percent climb from a year earlier. Shipments for China’s largest PC maker, Lenovo Group Ltd., were flat. The company forfeited its global top spot to HP earlier this year. Dell Technologies Inc.’s shipments rose 0.7 percent.
The report comes amid a period of stabilization within the PC market that pushed industry players’ revenue higher over last year. HP’s sales surged 11 percent in its fourth quarter from a year earlier while Lenovo posted its strongest revenue growth in two years.
Sales of desktop and laptop computers have been in a rut as smartphones and tablets offered consumers a swifter, on-the-go experience. But sleeker versions of PCs with upgraded software are expected to capture buyers looking to replace their aging hardware.
For instance, Dell released a new tool, which allows text messages, calls and apps from iPhone and Android devices to sync to the PC in an attempt to appeal to avid smartphone users. The Dell Mobile Connect was announced on Tuesday at CES, the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.