PC Sales Drop to New Lows As Device Makers Regret Building Them to Last
A combination of holiday sales and the launch of Windows 10 weren’t enough to slow the decline of PC sales, which have fallen to their lowest levels since 2007. Shipments declined by as much as 10.6 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to analyst firm IDC. Fellow analyst Gartner had similarly dire numbers to share: 75.7 million PCs shipped for the quarter, down 8.3 percent on 2014.
Overall sales for the year were just as bad, with IDC estimating shipments fell 10.4 percent to 276.2 million units, and Gartner pushing the slightly less terrifying number of 299.6 million units for an 8 percent fall.
The only manufacturer to show any growth for the year was—you guessed it—Apple, which managed to grow 2.8 percent according to IDC and 5.8 percent according to Gartner. Everyone else’s sales shrunk, although Lenovo—the number one PC vendor worldwide—at least managed a mere 3.6 percent fall compared to the 6 percent-or-larger drops seen by HP, Dell, Asus, and Acer.
Shipments fell in all regions, and global shipments have dropped for the past five quarters. It was in fact so bad that shipments have dropped to levels not seen since 2007.
And that makes sense, given that a lot of the PCs made in 2007 are still usable.
While analysts blame the decline on a combination of factors, including consumer interest turning to other consumer electronics devices (TV, wearables, and mobile devices), or the as yet unpaid "free" Windows 10 downloads, I have a different explanation.
PC sales are down because the existing hardware is built to last a decade or more, and since a PC is not a consumable or an impulse purchase, consumers tend to keep using the one they have until it no longer works.
Remember, we live in the era where consumers keep using four-year-old tablets (hence why the tablet market stopped growing, and why tablets keep getting cheaper) even though they would benefit from replacing it, so it does not surprise me that ten year old computers are still in use.
So no, it wouldn’t surprise me that PC sales are down.
Speaking of which, how old is your computer?