Smartphone shipments may have skyrocketed in the past decade, but apparently there’s still a place for personal computers. Research firms Gartner and IDC have both released reports suggesting that PC shipments were up in 2019, making it the first year since 2011 that PC shipments were up year-over-year.

The increase was a modest one… and it’s unclear if it’ll be sustainable. But it looks like we’re not living in entirely post-PC world just yet.

According to IDC’s figures, PC shipments rose by 2.7 percent in 2019. Gartner measured just a 0.6 percent increase. The discrepancy is due to what each firm considers a PC (IDC says Chomebooks are PCs, but tablets are not, while Gartner includes tablets like the Microsoft Surface, but not Chromebooks. I have no idea how the companies will categorize upcoming foldables like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold).

But both agree that this is the first time in seven years when there was any kind of uptick.

One major contributing factor? The impending end-of-support for Windows 7, which prompted many businesses to replace their aging PCs last year. That trend will likely continue for the next few quarters, but it’s unclear what will happen when the share of computers running Windows 7 diminishes.

But with somewhere between 261 million and 267 million PCs shipped over the course of the year, it seems clear that there’s still demand for traditional computers… just not as much demand as there is for smartphones. According to IDC, 358 million smartphones were shipped in just Q3, 2019. That’s more smartphones shipped in three months than PCs shipped over the course of an entire year.

So… maybe in that sense we are already living in a post-PC world.

A few other fun facts from the PC shipment reports:

  • Lenovo, HP, and Dell continue to lead the pack.
  • Apple saw a small decline in PC shipments. But the company’s iPad and iPhone sales are still big business, so I wouldn’t worry too much about Apple’s long term prospects.
  • Acer and Asus are the only other companies that even showed up on the charts — and both saw declining shipments.

press releases (Gartner) (IDC)

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  1. More of an indication that PC’s are already basic household appliances, I think.

    Just like TVs, you only need a certain number in the house and the price differential for quality products is now small enough to phase out low quality vendors and leave only a small pool of suppliers. While innovation is not quick enough to persuade you to buy a new version until the old one has been well worn.

    …whereas phones are still more like pieces of jewelry, or clothing, that you tailor to your personal activities, mood and current fashions, and you can ‘never have too much’ . And so they remain only limited by your finances.

  2. Large numbers of smartphones sold does not imply that they’re replacing PCs. They’re simply FAR shorter lasting than PCs, are often sold to people who NEVER used a PC in their life, who are just okay with being fed information rather than generating information and using it for themselves. Very different use cases.
    Besides, the existence of smartphones changes the way people interact (unfortunately), in a way that makes having them a requirement. Big disruptive technologies seem to share a common theme: enabling you to interact with ONLY the people you like, more and more thoroughly.
    Start with the car. With a car, you don’t have to deal with people on busses or trains or people you would walk past on your way somewhere. So you don’t interact with people. Then, as more people do it for the convenience of it all, the more people expect others to use cars and not interact with others, so you come to expect people not to interact with you, and you fear it.
    Earlier telecommunications also added to this, but not to the degree the internet has. There is FAR more categorization here giving rise to far stronger identity politics, because now entire categories of people CAN be excluded from you, and due to the ease of doing so, it’s expected that others will do likewise. The smartphone is simply this ability, made as portable as it can be. As artificial gamified interactions at great distance become the norm, just going up and talking to people becomes ABnormal. You don’t trust it. You assume malice everywhere, and not just because the news shows you nothing but malice everywhere. You HAVE to talk to people exclusively over a glowing screen if you don’t want them to think less of you! It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do! At least when there were luggable desktops and phone booths at best, you couldn’t be reasonably expected to have a screen, mic, and speaker nearby 24/7!
    That’s why smartphones keep selling.

    1. “Start with the car. With a car, you don’t have to deal with people on busses or trains or people you would walk past on your way somewhere.”

      Speaking of current trends, which country you are talking about? What countries you don’t talk about? 🙂