A new report has revealed personal computer sales are at their lowest in seven years with Apple being the only company to sell more PCs in 2015 than 2014. The report cites the lack of hardware upgrades, free operating system upgrades and movement toward tablets and keyboard accessories as factors.
Market research firm International Data Corporation’s analysis of PC sales from 2015 show a worldwide drop of shipments of 10.6% from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the same period of 2015. The data does not include tablets or keyboard accessories (the decline would only be 5%, in this case).
The decline beat the previous record of 9.8% from 2013 and marks the first time full-year shipments have dipped below 300 million units since 2008. Apple was the only company to see any growth worldwide, shipping 6.2% more units in 2015 than in 2014.
While those numbers look at worldwide shipments, the PC shipment total in the U.S. has dropped only 2.6% for the year. The only companies which saw growth in the U.S. last year were Lenovo — up to 8.1 million shipments from 7.1 million in 2014 — and Apple, with 8.3 million shipments, up from 7.9 million in 2014. Overall, Lenovo and Apple ranked third and fourth respectively in the U.S. behind HP (No. 1) and Dell (No. 2), who both saw overall declines.
Lenovo remains the top company worldwide for PC shipments even with a decline of 3.6%, followed by HP and Dell with Apple edging out Acer Group, ranked fourth.
Why the fall?
According to IDC, some of the factors contributing to a drop in growth for the PC market are longer life cycles, competition from mobile devices and tablets and outside factors like weak international currencies and social unrest in Europe, the Middle East, Africa Asia and Pacific regions.
Changes in the operating system market also factored into PC sales in 2015, such as Windows XP no longer being supported the year before and the growth of inexpensive upgrades with newer operating systems. Meanwhile, Windows 10 launched in July 2015 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8 owners, giving them the option to easily upgrade their OS without purchasing a new computer.
Even with the free upgrade, people aren’t eager to move off Windows 7. According to web traffic-tracking companyGoSquared, Windows 7 still typically accounts for more than 50% of Windows web users, with Windows 8 and 10 making up the remaining 34% to 50% of traffic pretty evenly. The highest that Windows 10 has hit in the last month was Jan. 2 with 27.7% of users.
Meanwhile, hardware itself hasn’t made any big leaps or bounds over the last year. CPUs like Intel’s i series and AMD’s FX series are pushing six and even eight cores, but at this point, there’s no need for that sheer volume of processing power outside of high-end gaming or enthusiast builds. Two cores is enough for the typical PC purchaser, with four cores still being able to handle pretty much anything considered demanding.
Virtual reality headsets that will be hitting the market this year have some pretty high hardware requirements in order to make them work well enough to not make you dizzy or sick. If there are a large number of VR adopters, there may be a large number of people looking to upgrade their computers, putting PC shipments back on track.