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After Worst Year Ever, PC Sales Off to Another Bad Start in 2016

Dell and Lenovo grew their share in the U.S. market at HP's expense.

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Global shipments of personal computers, once a major backbone of both consumer and corporate IT spending, started the new year with another decline in the first quarter, according to data from the research firm Gartner, out today.

Vendors like Lenovo, HP Inc. and Dell shipped a combined 64.8 million units in the period ended March 31, down from 71.7 million in the same period a year ago. HP saw the worst decline, as its unit sales fell 9 percent, followed by Lenovo — the world’s market leader — whose shipments fell by more than 7 percent. Shipments by privately held Dell fell the least, by only 0.4 percent. Apple and Asus both increased their shipments, by 1.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

HP also had a rough time in the U.S. market, where its shipments fell to 3.1 million units, or 17 percent, from the same period in 2015. Dell overtook HP in the U.S. with a 26 percent share of the market, and grew its shipments by 3 percent. Lenovo was third, and grew its shipments by more than 14 percent. Shipments of Apple’s Mac declined slightly, Gartner said. Overall shipments in the U.S. market declined by more than 6 percent, to 13.1 million, from more than 14 million last year.

The latest decline comes on the heels of the biggest year-on-year decline in the history of the PC industry, as annual unit shipments fell below 300 million for the first time since 2008. The decline is also occurring despite a multi-million dollar joint marketing campaign by PC vendors and Microsoft.

Update: Figures from IDC, another research firm, are out today too, and they show a similar drop — but with some differences likely due to its figures’ inclusion of Chromebooks. (Gartner doesn’t consider a Chromebook to be a PC.)

IDC counted a smaller 60.6 million PC shipments worldwide, but that amounted to higher decline of 11.5 percent from nearly 68 million in the first quarter of 2015. IDC put Apple in fourth place globally ahead of Asus, while Gartner ranked them the other way around.

In the U.S. market IDC observed the same resurgence by Dell in overtaking HP. It also credited Apple with boosting its shipments of Macs by more than 5 percent. We’ll get a clearer picture after Apple and HP report quarterly sales in the coming weeks.

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