Personal Computers aren’t selling like they used to… at least not traditional PCs. A new report from Gartner says that PC sales have declined for the 8th quarter in a row, representing the longest ongoing decline in shipments ever.

Shipments during the third quarter of 2016 are said to be down about 5.7 percent from the same period a year earlier.

So what’s behind the declining shipments?


Gartner posits that there may be a few reasons. The rise of the smartphone means that people are using computers less. Even folks that do use PCs on a regular basis might not feel the need to upgrade or replace them as often, since they use phones or tablets for many of the things that they used to go to a computer for.

Another reason could be that the market is already pretty saturated: Gartner notes that the third quarter is usually a time when back-to-school promotions help bolster PC sales in the US, but with so many existing (and still useful) computers in the wild, some parents may be opting to give their hand-me-downs to their kids rather than buying new computers.

That said… this whole decline in PC shipments thing? It might just be a question of classification.

Gartner’s report doesn’t include Chromebooks, and the company notes that it looks like “Chromebooks exceeded PC shipment in growth.” But there’s really no reason to think of Chromebooks as anything other than personal computers. They just happen to be laptops that run Google’s operating system instead of Microsoft’s or Apple’s.

Likewise, there may come a time when makes sense to group smartphones in with “personal computers,” since they’re becoming the go-to devices for communications, media, games, web browsing, and a lot of the other things people have traditionally used PCs for.

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