Global shipments of traditional PCs marginally surpassed expectations in the fourth quarter of 2023 (4Q23) with nearly 67.1 million PCs shipped, down 2.7% from the prior year, according to preliminary results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker.
Despite the improved results, 4Q23 was the eighth consecutive quarter of year-over-year shipment volume contraction. The holiday quarter shipments also marked the lowest fourth quarter volume since 4Q06, underscoring a market recovering slowly amidst weak demand and reliance on substantial promotions.
On an annual basis, the market has experienced unprecedented consecutive declines, marking a stark departure from historical trends tracked since 1995. In 2022, shipment volume plummeted 16.5% compared to the previous year, and preliminary results suggest an additional 13.9% contraction in 2023 compared to 2022. This downturn, unparalleled in the industry’s recorded history, reflects the aftermath of the significant surge in PC purchases driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Across the major technology categories, the PC market has arguably been the biggest roller coaster in terms of ups and downs over the past four years,” said Ryan Reith, group vice president with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. “While the market was down again in 2023 in terms of shipments, there is a lot of positive momentum for PCs looking forward. While AI has clearly captured everyone’s attention, it shouldn’t be overlooked that 2024 is expected to be a strong year for commercial PC refresh, and the advancements around gaming PCs continues to drive market excitement.”
The top companies in the industry remain largely unchanged, and just like the overall market, they too are experiencing unusual quarterly growth swings, according to the report. The brands that are positioned better within the commercial segment are likely to have more confidence heading into 2024, but technological advances should create opportunities for both commercial and consumer vendors.
The silver lining in all of this is that the PC market contractions appear to have bottomed out and growth is expected in 2024.