Smartphones are down, PCs are up, and yes, it’s still 2018

The PC market has posted a surprise growth in shipments this year, the first such increase in 2012 — and the reason why probably won’t come as a surprise.

Market research firms Gartner and IDC are both out with fresh numbers showing a year-over-year bump for the second quarter — Gartner pegging it at 1.4 percent, while IDC recorded a 2.7 percent rise. Part of what was behind that growth was demand for desktops from business customers as well as people hungry for gaming PCs.

Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa, it should be noted, thinks the increase will be short-lived, especially as the Windows 10 upgrade cycle “tails off.”

“PC shipment growth in the second quarter of 2018 was driven by demand in the business market, which was offset by declining shipments in the consumer segment,” Kitagawa said. “In the consumer space, the fundamental market structure, due to changes on PC user behavior, still remains, and continues to impact market growth. Consumers are using their smartphones for even more daily tasks, such as checking social media, calendaring, banking and shopping, which is reducing the need for a consumer PC.

Gartner’s research shows that PC shipments worldwide hit 62.1 million units in the second quarter. And that all regions saw growth to some degree compared to a year ago.

IDC’s research is worth also taking a look at, since it includes Chromebooks but sets aside Windows tablets like the Surface Pro. For Gartner, it’s the opposite.

Actual shipments blew past IDC’s forecasted less than 1 percent rate of growth and marked the strongest bump in desktop shipments since the 4.2 percent the market saw in the first quarter of 2012.

The firm, like Gartner, pointed to increased commercial purchases and consumer demand for gaming systems as driving the growth. “The enterprise shift to Windows 10 and an overall positive economic environment also helped maintain momentum on the notebook side.”

IDC research manager Jay Chou sums all this up by pointing about that PCs still probably aren’t the default computing device in many scenarios, but the market “continues to show pockets of resiliency. Even certain types of desktops are seeing growth amid this business-driven refresh cycle.”

According to the IDC data, HP, Lenovo, Dell, Apple and Acer all saw increases. The increase, as noted, is likely to be fleeting, but it’s still an interesting pattern to take note of in an economy where portability and small size continues to drive so much of our buying decisions when it comes to the devices we choose.

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