Worldwide shipments of personal computers (PCs) have continued to slide, according to new research.

An assessment by research and analysis outfit Gartner found that shipments totalled 67 million units in the third quarter of 2017; a decline of 3.6% on an annualised basis compared to the same quarter last year.

The latest decline marked the 12th consecutive quarter of PC shipments slump.

Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said: "While there were signs of stabilisation in the PC industry in key regions, including EMEA ["Europe Middle East and Africa"], Japan and Latin America, the relatively stable results were offset by the US market, which saw a 10% year-over-year decline in part because of a very weak back-to-school sales season."

Business PC demand, led by Windows 10 upgrades, continued to drive shipments across all regions, but its refresh schedule varies by region.

"The countries with stable economies, such as the US, have created a positive sentiment among businesses, especially for small and midsized businesses (SMBs), which are more vulnerable to external events, such as economic or political," Kitagawa added.

There are also ongoing component shortages, with DRAM shortages in particular getting worse during the third quarter of the year compared with the first half of 2017.

"The component price hike impacted the consumer PC market as most vendors generally pass the price hike on to consumers, rather than absorbing the cost themselves. We expect the DRAM shortage to continue to the end of 2018, but it will not be reflected in the final PC prices immediately."

In the third quarter of 2017, HP and Lenovo were in a virtual tie for the top spot in the PC market based on shipments (see table below). However, HP is in an upward trend, as it has experienced five consecutive quarters of global PC growth, while Lenovo is in a downward trend with declining shipments in eight of the last 10 quarters, Gartner noted.

Gartner
Gartner

In the key US market, PC shipments totalled 14.7 million units in the third quarter of 2017, a 10.3% decline from the third quarter of 2016. It was the fourth consecutive quarter of declining PC shipments. Weak back-to-school sales were further evidence that traditional consumer PC demand drivers for are no longer effective, Gartner said.

Elsewhere, shipments in EMEA totalled 19 million units in the third quarter of 2017; a 1.1% decline on an annualised basis. In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments reached 24 million units in the third quarter of 2017, down 2.1% on same quarter last year.