This Is Why The PC Market Isn’t Cratering Like It Once Was

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A laptop user looking at an option page in the Google Chrome internet browser allowing users to clear their online browsing data, in London (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Yui Mok—PA Images via Getty Images

The fact that the personal computer market isn’t sinking as fast as it did just a few years ago is good news for the world’s biggest PC makers.

Worldwide shipments of PCs declined 3.3% year-over-year in the second quarter to 60.5 million, the International Data Corporation said on Wednesday. Analyst firm Gartner published a similar PC shipment report Wednesday that showed PC shipments had dropped at a slightly higher rate—4.3%—year-over-year to 61 million.

IDC sounded optimistic that the PC market may stabilize soon. Jay Chou, an IDC research manager for PCs, told Fortune that his firm has noticed a “steadying trend to where the declines aren’t as drastic” as they once were. In the fourth quarter of 2015, for example, PC shipments dropped 10.6% to 71.9 million, far faster than today.

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Chou said that North America and European businesses are upgrading their PCs to newer models that are powered by Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows 10 operating system, contributing to the PC market’s improved performance. HP (HPQ) and Dell Technologies, in particular, have benefited from businesses upgrading their workplace computers, Chou said. In 2016, businesses appeared to be delaying their PC upgrades despite Windows 10 debuting in July, 2015.

In both the IDC and Gartner reports, HP is the leading PC manufacturer with both firms reporting that its PC shipments rose in the second quarter. IDC said that HP’s PC shipments rose 6.2% year-over-year to 13.8 million while Gartner said HP’s shipments grew 3.3% to 12.7 million.

Whereas IDC counts so-called Chromebooks as PCs, Gartner does not, which is likely the reason the two research firms shipping estimates for HP and other Chromebook makers differs. Chromebooks are barebones laptops that run on Google’s (GOOG) Chrome operating system and are sold by several big vendors including HP, Lenovo, and Dell Technologies.

Both IDC and Gartner said that Lenovo is the second biggest PC maker, and both firms noted that Lenovo’s PC shipments declined in the second quarter compared to the previous year. IDC said Lenovo’s PC shipments dropped by 5.7% year-over-year while Gartner said it was an 8.4% year-over-year decline.

Chou attributed the drop in Lenovo’s PC shipments to the fact that much of its sales are in Asia, where businesses generally don’t upgrade their workplace computers as frequently as their North American or European counterparts.

Dell Technologies is the third biggest PC shipper, both research firms said, although IDC said that company’s shipments gained 3.7% year-over-year compared to Gartner’s estimate of 1.4%. Like HP, Dell’s Chromebook shipments are likely why the IDC estimates differs from Gartner’s.

Apple (AAPL) was the fourth biggest PC shipper, and both firms estimate that its shipments were relatively flat.

Apple’s PC shipments declined in 2016, which IDC said at the time was likely due to its older lineup of PCs. The tech giant’s Apple new MacBook Pro models that debuted in the fall, however, appear to have been reversed the drop off.

Correction: Thursday, July 13 at 8:00 AM PST
Chromebooks run on Chrome OS, not Android.

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