Gartner and IDC both said yesterday that global PC shipments rose in the fourth quarter of 2019. They didn't agree on exactly how much the market grew--Gartner said it saw a 2.3% increase in shipments; IDC said it saw a 4.8% increase--but they did attribute that growth to the same factor. It turns out that Microsoft's decision to finally stop supporting Windows 7 was the push the PC market needed last year.
For anyone who missed the memo: Microsoft will officially stop supporting Windows 7 on January 14. The company has repeatedly warned people who continue to use the operating system of this change, and advised them to upgrade to Windows 10. Many of those people, according to Gartner and IDC, are upgrading their hardware as a result.
Here's what Gartner senior principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said about the shift:
“The PC market experienced growth for the first time since 2011, driven by vibrant business demand for Windows 10 upgrades, particularly in the U.S., EMEA and Japan. We expect this growth to continue through this year even after Windows 7 support comes to an end this month, as many businesses in emerging regions such as China, Eurasia and the emerging Asia/Pacific have not yet upgraded.”
That growth wasn't particularly high. Gartner said that PC shipments rose just 0.6% year-over-year between 2018 and 2019. But even that minor increase in shipments was worth celebrating, because it's been eight years since the market grew at all.
Unfortunately neither company expects this growth to last. Companies will probably be less keen to upgrade their systems in the new fiscal year, and without that bump from Windows 7's demise, other factors will play a more important role. That means Intel's ongoing CPU shortage, the trade war between the U.S. and China and other negative aspects of the market could quickly reverse the market's growth from 2019.
IDC Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers research manager Jitesh Ubrani explained:
"Despite the positivity surrounding 2019, the next twelve to eighteen months will be challenging for traditional PCs as the majority of Windows 10 upgrades will be in the rearview mirror and lingering concerns around component shortages and trade negotiations get ironed out. Although new technologies such as 5G and dual- and folding-screen devices along with an uptake in gaming PCs will provide an uplift, these will take some time to coalesce."
Gartner and IDC also agreed on the top four PC vendors: Lenovo, HP, Dell and Apple. The first three grew year-over-year in 2019, but Apple and other top vendors shipped fewer units compared to 2018, despite the market's overall growth. That difference was at least partly attributed to the big three's ability to secure enough CPUs to meet demand for their PCs; other companies didn't fare as well.