PC Market Flat-Lined in Q3 2018

Posted on October 11, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 22 Comments

PC sales were flat in the quarter ending September 31. But there was one surprise: Lenovo regained the top spot in the market, displacing HP.

“Weakness in consumer PC demand continued in the third quarter, offsetting the strong sales in the business market,” Gartner’s Mikako Kitagawa said, explaining the results.

“The outlook remains uncertain as we head into the holiday season, when volume will be boosted by many consumer-oriented promotions in entry-level SKUs,” IDC’s Jay Chou added.

Overall, PC makers sold 67.3 million PCs in the quarter, down slightly—let’s call it flat—from the 67.6 million units they sold a year earlier. Given the recent state of the market—after watching PC sales fall for six straight years, this year, we’ve experienced at least one quarter of tiny growth—we’ll take it as a win.

Lenovo emerged as the top PC maker for the first time in several years, having sold slightly more than 16 million PCs in the quarter. HP fell to second place with 15 million units sold.

Perhaps this shouldn’t have been surprising: In August, [Lenovo reported that it had experienced a PC sales surge in the quarter](highest growth in four years), its highest growth in four years. HP, meanwhile, warned of its declining unit sales in traditional PCs.

As for the rest of the industry, not much changed year-over-year or quarter-over-quarter. Dell, Acer, and Apple rounded out the top five, as usual. And if you look just at Gartner’s numbers, and only at the U.S. market, Microsoft somehow managed to crack the top five for the first time ever. That Surface Go must be selling like gangbusters.

Looking ahead, Gartner noted that Intel’s recent warning about meeting PC chipset demand could have a short-term impact on PC sales that result in higher prices and “changes to the vendor landscape,” which I assume means further consolidation. IDC, meanwhile, noted an “uncertain” outlook.


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Comments (22)

22 responses to “PC Market Flat-Lined in Q3 2018”

  1. Minke

    "Overall, Chromebooks experienced double-digit growth in the U.S., but Chromebooks are not included in the PC market statistics,” said Ms. Kitagawa."

    • fbman

      In reply to Minke:

      But chrome books are only a success in the US, the rest of the world has prettly much ignored them. So I dont think chromebook would make a huge difference in worldwide sales figures.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Minke:

      As I've mentioned here before, growth at the low end is very easy to come by.

      • VancouverNinja

        In reply to skane2600:

        Whatever growth they have had from .08% is completely immaterial to the market segment. It is a dead platform and is not worth any discussion.

        What is meaningful is how OEMs ridiculous efforts on Chromebooks have cost many of them to lose market share to Microsoft. If I was any of them I would be pissed at Google for causing distraction.

        Is Microsoft the villain? Not even close - MS has supported OEMs but when they started to seriously lose focus on Windows PCs they had to step in - and thank goodness they did. We now have new more innovative devices as a result.

        OEMs like HP, Lenovo, Acer and Dell should abandon Chromebooks for the failure they are and get better focused on Windows PCs. The market is not close to having realized its potential yet and there is more profit to be made by reducing their efforts and maximizing their return on less but better devices that the market wants to buy.

        • skane2600

          In reply to VancouverNinja:

          I think OEMs got into Chromebooks to see if they could be less dependent on Microsoft, just as Microsoft got into ARM processors to see if they could become less dependent on Intel. So far both initiatives haven't paid off for about the same reasons - a very popular body of legacy Windows applications.

  2. hrlngrv

    Re HP's and Lenovo's market share places, Lenovo acquired some Fujitsu operations earlier in 2018. Did Fujitsu have some large deals for new shipments in Q3? I figure swings in market share places are due to clusters of large enterprise orders rather than anything to do with consumers.

  3. Bats

    Well, this isn't surprising.

    I am interested to see how PC sales looks in a graph, in order to see where the downhill is trending. With all the negative and neutral news, it's got to be grim. After all, why not?

    I've said this before (several years ago) and I'll say it again. The future of the PC will be it regulated to an appliance, where a single household will have at least one....like a toaster. Back then, I saw the usefulness of the Chromebook as it's replacement, due to it's simplicity and it's low price, but I don't think so anymore. That's because today, we don't need a computer to keep a movie and music collection. We don't need a PC to make a home movie or a create content for Youtube. We don't need a PC, to get and print out directions in order to get to our travel destination. Other than, specialized work, a PC is not needed at all. Moreover, if someone needs/wants information, it comes instantly now....."Hey Google/Alexa, what is the weather tomorrow?" 

    Even when it comes to work, I have found myself not needing a PC when I am on the road. I find that I can actually create documents and letters to people using my Pixel, by simply dictating to my phone and have the fabulous and highly accurate voice to text feature create the words for me. Then I copy and paste that to a World template on my phone and send.

    Microsoft's attempt to revive the PC, has just utterly failed. Isn't that what the Surface line was supposed to do? For Microsoft to lead the way to new computing technologies and get the other PC manufacturers to follow them? Isn't that what Surface was for, with the Windows 10 OS being the centerpiece of it all? Well, it clearly hasn't worked. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, Microsoft just recreated it.

    Everything is just so easy now.....and you don't need a PC.

  4. fredricks

    That's called the real content, full of information. It;s really nice to be here and my pleasure to read your every posts.

  5. DaddyBrownJr

    I recently went to the Directions 2018 conference (Microsoft Dynamics NAV/365 developer/reseller conference) and I would say that 90% of the people there were using either a ThinkPad or some sort of Surface device. There was a smattering of Dells, HPs, etc. but not many. It doesn't surprise me that Lenovo is in the number one spot again.

  6. derylmccarty

    I wonder if the Chinese "spy chip" fiasco will affect Chinese-manufactured Lenovo's sales in Q4.

  7. hrlngrv

    Has there been as pressing a need to upgrade hardware since 2010 as there was before that? When standard new PC configuration hit 4GB RAM and 500GB internal drives (non-SSD), didn't they become sufficient for most personal use? In crasser terms, has anything been added to Windows since Windows 7 which makes Win32 desktop software better? Or can Windows 7 on a machine with 4GB RAM run pretty much every piece of current Win32 desktop software? Sure, you'd be missing out on the MSFT Store and hundreds of UWP titles, but anything else?

    • LocalPCGuy

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      If you still have your 2010 PC, I recommend installing a new SSD. Your machine will run three times faster due to the much faster data transfer rate. I usually set up customer's PC's so the old hard drive is used as a backup, with File History or SyncBackFree and Macrium Reflect.

    • generalprotectionfault

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Sandy Bridge was the last big generational leap. Cumulatively we've seen maybe 20% performance increase since then over the many generations of CPUs & that's fairly generous. AMD's even managed to largely catch up these days.

    • A_lurker

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Short answer to both questions: No. The only possible upgrade would be from a 32 bit processor to a 64 bit processor. If you have a 64 bit processor then the only item to consider is large hard drive for data which can be an external one. Software is in even worse shape as the highly touted features are only useful to a small subset and most older versions are perfectly capable of doing the job as well as the last release for most. And this OS/application independent.

  8. shameermulji

    Which Lenovo laptop is that in the picture?

  9. NoFlames

    Do they still count Surface in the tablet category?

  10. lbastie

    Did you notice apple is down 500.000 units in Q3, or 0.7% market share. Windows PC makers are doing well.