Even not-so-bad news counts as good news for the PC market these days.
In the second quarter of this year, worldwide PC shipments either remained largely flat (according to research firm Gartner) or declined only slightly (according to research firm IDC).
According to Gartner, 75.8 million PCs were shipped in the second quarter this year, a 0.1 percent increase from the second quarter of 2013. It was good news after eight previous quarters of declining shipments.
IDC, meanwhile, said 74.4 million PCs were shipped in the second quarter, representing a year-over-year decline of 1.7 percent. It was the smallest decline since the second quarter of 2012 and better than IDC’s projection of a 7.1 percent decrease.
Both research firms pointed to growth in mature markets such as the U.S., Canada and Europe, but declining shipments in emerging markets.
IDC attributed the better-than-expected results to businesses looking to replace PCs running Windows XP, which Microsoft ended support for in April after more than a decade. IDC also said consumer-side shipments were stronger than expected, especially for lower-priced PCs, including Chromebooks.
PC shipments in emerging markets declined, though, which IDC said was due to weaker economies and political issues.
Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa attributed the decline in emerging markets to the rise of low-cost tablets.
“These low-cost tablets continue to take spending from new PC units, meaning that it will take more time for PC sales to stabilize in emerging markets,” she said in Gartner’s news release.
Kitagawa also said the second-quarter results suggest that the move by consumers from PCs to tablets and smartphones has peaked.
“We are seeing a slowdown in premium tablet sales, which have already penetrated a large number of households,” she said. “PCs are now growing off a smaller installed base of newer devices, with more engaged users. Therefore, we expect to see slow, but consistent, PC growth.”
Separately, Gartner predicted worldwide combined shipments of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones will reach 2.4 billion units this year — up 4.2 percent from last year.
The company predicts that business upgrades from Windows XP and the general business replacement cycle will help the PC market. It also predicts that tablet sales will slow — though still show an increase of 23.9 percent from last year — while mobile phone sales will increase 3.1 percent from last year.
Gartner forecasts Windows devices will account for about 14 percent of all device shipments this year, while Android will account for 48 percent, and iOS/Mac OS 11 percent.
Here’s Gartner’s chart showing second-quarter PC shipments:
And here’s IDC’s chart: