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Resurgence in Traditional PCs After 7 Years of Decline

According to data from market research firm IDC, in the United States and worldwide, traditional PCs saw positive growth in the fourth quarter of 2019 and for the full year, ending "seven consecutive years of market contraction."

"The worldwide market for traditional PCs, inclusive of desktops, notebooks and workstations, finished an impressive 2019 with fourth quarter growth of 4.8 percent year over year," IDC said. "Global shipments during the quarter beat forecast expectations at just under 71.8 million units, the highest single quarter shipment volume in five years (4Q14). Overall, global shipments grew 2.7 percent year over year in 2019, the first full year of PC growth since the market grew 1.7 percent in 2011."

Those numbers are based on preliminary data from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker.

In the United States, "The traditional PC market continued to see positive momentum in the fourth quarter of 2019, recording single-digit growth compared to the same period a year ago," according to IDC. "Desktop and notebook categories both saw an increase in shipments as Windows 7 end of service (EOS) continued to loom large over the commercial segment, while the holiday season and fading concerns about tariffs contributed to a strong end of the year."

The top PC manufacturers in 2019 were:

  1. Lenovo, at 64.8 million units (up 8.2 percent);
  2. HP, 62.9 million units (up 4.8 percent);
  3. Dell, 46.5 million units (up 5.6 percent);
  4. Apple, 17.7 million units (down 2.2 percent); and
  5. Acer, 17 million units (down 4.6 percent).

"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," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, in a prepared statement. 

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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