Things are looking a little bleak, but maybe it wasn't such a bad idea for Microsoft to get into the PC business after all.
PC shipments dropped 7.7 percent in the third quarter of 2015, compared to the same year-ago period, according to Gartner. In total, vendors shipped 73.7 million units worldwide, with desktop PCs leading the decline.
Rising prices, due to a strengthening U.S. dollar, are contributing to softening demand. "The global PC market has experienced price increases of around 10 percent throughout the year, due to the sharp appreciation of the U.S. dollar against local currencies," noted Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa in a statement.
"In the third quarter of 2015, this continued to be a major cause for weaker demand in those regions," she continued. "These impacted regions, which include EMEA, Japan and Latin America, posted double-digit declines in the third quarter. Asia/Pacific and the U.S. were more stable."
The arrival of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system (OS) this summer did little to move the needle.
Microsoft officially launched Windows 10 on July 29, in time for the back-to-school shopping season, but the primary aim was to upgrade older PCs to the new OS. "The Windows 10 rollout will ramp up in 4Q15 holiday sales," said Gartner.
There are other signs of a turnaround, or at least a sense of stabilization. Gartner's own personal technology survey for 2015 found that 50 percent of consumers are planning to buy a PC in the next 12 months versus 21 percent for tablets.
Kitagawa said the "change in consumer preferences toward PCs was visible in the preliminary data, as we saw positive growth in U.S notebook and premium ultramobile shipments." This is potentially good news for Microsoft, whose recently-unveiled Surface Book Pro – a 2-in-1 notebook – arrives on Oct. 26.
"Soft recovery is expected to start in 4Q15, as Windows 10 product refreshes start to appear," added Kitagawa. "In the meantime, PC manufacturers should adjust configurations for 2016 without the impact of price hikes seen in 2015, which will lead into more stable market conditions in the upcoming year."
Chinese PC maker Lenovo took the top spot during the third quarter with worldwide shipments of 14.9 million PCs and 20.3 percent of the market. HP came in second with 13.6 million PCs, followed by Dell, Apple, Acer and Asus.
In the U.S., HP was the top vendor with 4.7 million units shipped and 27.8 percent of the market. Dell was close behind with 4 million PCs and a 24.2-percent share of the market. Apple, Lenovo and Asus rounded out the top five.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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