STAMFORD — Personal-computer shipments dropped 1.3 percent in 2018, marking the seventh-straight year of declines, according to data released this week by IT consulting and research firm Gartner.
The slight decrease, to about 259 million units, reflected a shortage of computer processing units and demand weakened by political and economic doubts in some countries, Gartner officials said. A 4 percent drop in shipments in the fourth quarter of last year contributed to the annual slide.
“There was even uncertainty in the U.S. — where the overall economy has been strong — among vulnerable buyer groups, such as small and midsize businesses,” Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. “Consumer demand remained weak in the holiday season. Holiday sales are no longer a major factor driving consumer demand for PCs.”
Kitagawa said she expected demand for business-PC upgrades to continue in 2019 if CPU availability were to improve.
In the U.S., PC shipments totaled about 14 million units in the fourth quarter, down 4.5 percent from a year ago. Four of the top six PC manufacturers saw their U.S. deliveries fall during that period.
“The fourth quarter is typically a buying season for small office/home office and small business buyers in the U.S. as they want to use up the untouched budget before the tax year ends,” Kitagawa said. “Our early indicator showed that small office/home office and small business buyers held off on some new PC purchases due to uncertainties around the political and economic conditions.”
The top three PC makers increased their share of the global market. Lenovo, HP and Dell accounted for 63 percent of shipments in the fourth quarter, up from 59 percent a year ago.
Lenovo surpassed HP to become the top global PC seller in the fourth quarter and all of 2018, with more than 58 million shipments in the past year. Gartner attributed Lenovo’s gain, in large part, to a joint venture launched last year with another technology powerhouse, Fujitsu.
The company has recorded three straight quarters of double-digit shipment growth.
Amid its expansion, Lenovo has faced some setbacks. Last year, it recalled about 78,000 ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptops because they might have contained an unfastened screw that could have overheated their batteries, which could have created a fire hazard.
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