Worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2016 (totaled 72.6 million units) has shown a 3.7% decline compared from the fourth quarter of 2015, according to preliminary results by Gartner. For the year, 2016 PC shipments totaled 269.7 million units, a 6.2% decline from 2015. PC shipments have declined annually since 2012.

"Stagnation in the PC market continued into the fourth quarter of 2016 as holiday sales were generally weak due to the fundamental change in PC buying behaviour," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "The broad PC market has been static as technology improvements have not been sufficient to drive real market growth.”

Kitagawa also said that although the overall PC market will see stagnation, there are growth opportunities within the market, such as the engaged PC user market, the business market and gaming. However, these growth areas will not prevent the overall decline of the PC market, at least in the next year.

“There is the other side of the PC market, where PCs are infrequently used. Consumers in this segment have high dependency on smartphones, so they stretch PC life cycles longer. This side of the market is much bigger than the PC enthusiast segment; thus, steep declines in the infrequent PC user market offset the fast growth of the PC enthusiast market," she added.

Four of the top six vendors experienced an increase in worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2016. For the year, worldwide PC shipments totaled 269.7 million units in 2016. 2016 shipment totals were at the same levels as shipments in 2007. Market consolidation escalated in 2016 as the top three vendors (Lenovo, HP and Dell) accounted for 54.7% of worldwide PC shipments in 2016, up from 51.5% in 2015.

Lenovo maintained the No. 1 position, as the company experienced shipment increases in North America and EMEA, while Asia/Pacific and Japan continued to be challenging markets. HP remained in the second spot and it has recorded three consecutive quarters of shipment growth. Dell also registered three consecutive quarters of shipment growth in 4Q16. Dell continued to place PCs as a strategic business segment in commercial and consumer markets during 2016. Asus suffered the steepest decline among the top six vendors in the fourth quarter of 2016. Asus has been shifting its PC strategy more toward the high-end market, which will allow it to maintain better profit margins. Gartner analysts said the falling shipment volume could be the cause of this strategy shift.