IDC estimates Apple Mac grew shipments 7.3% in holiday quarter; personal computer market posts first Q4 shipment growth in 6 years

Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs (desktop, notebook, and workstation) totaled 70.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, recording slightly positive (0.7%) year-on-year growth, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker. The results outperformed IDC’s forecast of a 1.7% decline in shipments during the quarter.

The Q417 results further validate the view of a steadying, albeit still weak, traditional PC market, buoyed mainly by commercial upgrades and pockets of improving consumer PC demand. 2017 ended with an annual shipment volume of 259.5 million units, which represents a year-over-year decline of 0.2%. This makes 2017 the most stable year the market has seen since 2011.

Aside from commercial demand, 2017 was further helped by several other factors. Although the situation improved as the year progressed, the shortage of key components such as SSD (Solid State Drives) acted as a major driver of shipments for much of 2017, with top PC companies vying to lock up supply ahead of price increases and thus boosting orders. In response to the contracting tablet market, companies also returned their focus to the notebook market, shifting the product mix to appeal to key user segments and expanding the number of slim, convertible, and gaming systems.

From a geographic perspective, the emerging regions were helped by a more favorable comparison against the tough market conditions in 2016, with Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ) and Latin America both producing positive fourth quarter results. The United States remained a challenging market while Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) was stable and Japan continued to make steady gains with its sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth.

“The fourth quarter results showed some potentially encouraging headway against the difficult environment in retail and consumer PCs,” said Jay Chou, research manager with IDC’s Personal Computing Device Tracker, in a statement. “Enticed by a growing array of products that promise all-day battery life, high portability, and address emerging use cases that require more compute power, pockets of the consumer base are taking a serious look at these revamped PCs. However, the overall PC market remains a challenging one.”

“The solid holiday consumer sales provided enough momentum for the PC market to stabilize a bit further,” said Neha Mahajan, senior research analyst, Devices & Displays, in a statement. “However, the growing popularity of other mobile form factors continued to have a dampening effect and led the overall U.S. PC market to perform below expectations.”

Regional Highlights

The United States market experienced a decline in shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017 with a drop in both notebook and desktop sales despite reports of a strong holiday quarter. Overall, total PC shipments for 4Q17 stood at 16.5 million units.

The EMEA traditional PC market continued to gain strength, thanks to notebook growth from ongoing and accelerating mobility adoption. In addition to being a traditionally strong quarter in the consumer segment, 4Q17 shipments in the commercial space were strong, particularly driven by renewal projects that were postponed earlier. The fast approach of the compliance deadline for GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe and several reports of cyber security breaches made security a strong priority in the hardware refresh cycle among enterprises.

The APeJ traditional PC market came in above IDC’s forecast in 4Q17. Good demand for gaming PCs and strong sales during the Singles Day promotion drove more shipments in the consumer PC market in China. In the ASEAN region, channel loading and promotions led to higher than expected sell-in in the Philippines and Indonesia. Elsewhere, weakening consumer spending after the Diwali festival impacted shipments in India.

The Japan traditional PC market exceeded IDC’s forecast by a comfortable margin, achieving year-over-year growth of 3.8% versus the forecast of a 2.9% decline in shipments. The commercial segment seems to be driving this growth due to rising demand from Windows 10 migration (and the end of support for Windows 7 scheduled for Q1 2020).

Company Highlights

HP Inc. pulled further ahead as the top company, maintaining its lead through every quarter of 2017. Shipments grew 8.3% compared to a year ago for the seventh consecutive quarter of positive growth and volume hit more than 16 million units for the first time since the third quarter of 2011. HP further consolidated its position in the U.S. market, growing its market share to 34%.

Lenovo was the number 2 company in 4Q17 with a flat quarter compared to 4Q16. It continued to weather tough conditions in the U.S. as it works through management transitions and channel changes. Outside of the U.S., Lenovo made solid gains growing 3.9% year over year with solid notebook shipments during the quarter.

Dell Inc. held the third position in 4Q17, posting year-over-year growth of 0.7% and shipping more than 11 million units for the first time in 2017. Competition in the U.S. market remained tough for the company as its U.S. share and growth both suffered. Elsewhere the company saw solid numbers.

Apple remained in the fourth position and grew its shipments 7.3% in 4Q17.

ASUS and Acer finished the fourth quarter in a statistical tie* for the fifth position. ASUS saw its shipments decline 11.2% year over year in 4Q17. Meanwhile, Acer’s focus on gaming PCs and related products, as well its presence in Chromebooks, helped it to close the gap with ASUS, despite a year-over-year decline in shipments.

Top Companies, Worldwide Traditional PC Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Fourth Quarter 2017
(Preliminary results) (Shipments are in thousands of units)
IDC: Top Companies, Worldwide Traditional PC Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Fourth Quarter 2017
Source: IDC Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, January 11, 2018
Note: IDC declares a statistical tie in the worldwide traditional PC market when there is a difference of one tenth of one percent or less in the share of revenues or shipments among two or more companies.

Top Companies, Worldwide Traditional PC Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Calendar Year 2017
(Preliminary results) (Shipments are in thousands of units)
IDC: Top Companies, Worldwide Traditional PC Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Calendar Year 2017
Source: IDC Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, January 11, 2018
Table Notes: Some IDC estimates prior to financial earnings reports. Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the company/brand under which they are sold. Traditional PCs include Desktops, Notebooks, and Workstations and do not include Tablets or x86 Servers. Detachable Tablets and Slate Tablets are part of the Personal Computing Device Tracker, but are not addressed in this press release. Data for all companies are reported for calendar periods.

Source: International Data Corporation

MacDailyNews Take: These are IDC estimates, of course. On February 1st, Apple will release the actual Mac unit sales for the company’s fiscal first quarter 2018 (calendar Q417). Note the discrepancies between IDC’s estimates and Gartner’s.

Gartner estimates Apple Mac grew shipments 1.4% in holiday quarter; computer market declined in Q417 and for the year – January 12, 2018
Apple to release Q118 earnings, webcast live conference call on February 1st – January 8, 2018


  1. So the growth comes from Apple Macs and the PC´s are at the same level. Go Mac!

    Now after Spectre and Meltdown everybody has to change their SM machines to Macs. That is how you atleast get the security updates.

  2. so, mac users gave tim a quarter, and he bought himself a clue.

    money well spent.

    maybe we should have bought him a washcloth too so he could have cleaned out his ears and started listening to us sooner.

    1. “maybe we should have bought him a washcloth too so he could have cleaned out his ears and started listening to us sooner.”

      You give yourself (and others) way too much credit.

  3. and that with ZERO MAC MARKETING.

    there isn’t even any cheap social or web ads !

    (note last quarter Macs as usual made more money than iPads and twice as much as the other hardware like AppleTV, AirPods, Beats, Watch etc COMBINED. )

    When I look at my MDN page right now I’ve got an Amazon ad selling electronics, a ad (as I’ve booked a hotel in Washington D.C), a Bandai Super Yamoto Spaceship ad, a Hexagon 3D ad, no ‘Beautiful Russian Girls Ad’ (as I was probably too busy too look at Porn..)

    but I DIGRESS.

    the thing is .. WHERE the F are the Mac Ads ?
    surely for person like me who read about Macs every day (using unscreened privacy busting Google search) and on a MAC news site we should be getting tons of Mac or Apple ads? Doesn’t Apple want to target known consumer demographics? Doesn’t Apple want to sell more Macs ?

    If they don’t want to spend Money on TV ads (for their multi billion dollar Mac arm?) as the TV audience demographics might be too broad surely at least they want Mac ads to pop up when people SEARCH for Macs on Google etc ?

    as an ex marketing person it baffles me no end.

    if they had upgraded their macs, marketed them for the years it’s been neglected, COMPOUNDED increase of sales of 5-10% extra annually might have meant BILLIONS more $$$ a year.

    1. Don’t these numbers prove you don’t need Mac ads? Beating the broader trend with no effort!

      Why? I’d have to say some is to those Pro’s that were waiting for “ANYTHING” but a lot likely went to new iOS owners that wanted something with a bigger screen to do all their surfing and facebooking on.

    2. “as an ex marketing person it baffles me no end.”

      For the year Macs grew marketshare to 7.6% (worldwide). Yet in the December quarter (as there was in each prior quarter) Mac share increased (8.18%).

      Organic growth sans advertising says there is one of three dynamics going on: 1/ Users of competing platforms are switching to the Mac platform, 2/ Mac users are upgrading in larger numbers, or 3/ both of the above.

      Advertising isn’t the holy grail to growth. Surely advertising isn’t nearly as important as producing a better mouse trap and supporting it with excellent service.

      Seems to me that Apple is spending advertising dollars on customer support. Customers share their experiences. More happy customers share more happy experiences.

      Advertising cannot overcome bad experiences.

      1. I’m not disagreeing with all you are saying about customer support or the product being more important etc.

        but about ads:

        if ads are not needed why are they doing HORDES of watch Ads and AirPods ads for example?

        last quarter Macs made (like I keep saying) : TWICE as much as Watch, AirPods, Beats, Apple TV, etc COMBINED. that’s BILLIONS more money.

        so don’t advertise your bigger money maker? Ford doesn’t advertise it’s CARS but advertisers like accessories which make less money?
        that makes sense to you?

        Steve Jobs ran one NEW Mac ad a MONTH for years ( 66 different Mac/PC guy ads over 4 years) which petered out when T. Cook became interim CEO.

        The real reason for neglect I suspect it’s because there are certain top level SVPs in Apple who aren’t that interested in Macs and have neglected it for a long time. Some years ago iPad sales were sky rocketing and Cook and gang thought that mac was over (hence comments like ‘who needs a PC’) but then iPad sales FELL of A CLIFF to about HALF peak sales level (look at sales graphs if you don’t believe me) . It has only recently begun to pick up with the low cost models.

        Tim Cook and Gang were side smacked.

        but remember it takes many years for Apple to REVAMP or put stuff (Macs) into the pipeline. they are scrambling to undo the years of neglect.

        Meanwhile sales were being kept alive by dedicated fans and people (like you said) migrating etc because the alternates suck. Apple has recovered somewhat it’s mac designing with the iMac Pro — the main reason being I think they found out that the GPUs in the Cylinder and other macs were too inadequate to deal with the new Apple software (like VR development) requirements — remember as a stopgap they tried selling External GPU boxes to developers at WWDC.

        (Ive’s studio end of 2015. Cheese grater mac pros under tables probably of the GPUs. no cylinders in sight)

        (without the iMac Pro Ive’s designers and Federighi’s engineers would using eGPUs or Windows/Linux boxes to design apple hardware and software in their Brand New Multi Billion — one and half years to design door handles — Campus, visitors would be laughing their heads off, elegant door handles but eGPU boxes because Macs are not powerful enough … ).

        Without this need Macs would have continued to have neglect i believe — Ive and his designers being too in love with the fashionista scene (RE: Watch ads) . The lack of Mac ads is that the MARKETING division hasn’t been quick enough to ramp up with the resurgence of the Mac ENGINEERING guys and gals.

    1. Ah, but ONLY if you want that market segment to grow and make more money! 🙂 Apple appears to be clear in that they see macOS as a platform to make content for iOS devices… which is where their big sales dollars AND their services dollars are driven by.

      I think the time is short for Apple to be a leader in the “truck” (I define that as desktop PC) market. Of that number of Macs, I wonder what would be the breakdown between laptops and desktops?

      1. a billion here a billion there and soon we’re talking real money! 🙂

        seriously like i said macs make more than ipad etc

        also more sales = more developers = more software

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