Apple's Mac sales suffer as PCs face bleak future

There is a glimmer of hope with PC shipments in the US, though

iMac

The overall PC market has experienced another decline in sales – no surprise there – but there is a bright spot in the latest Gartner report, which is that US shipments actually picked up this quarter.

Gartner's figures for Q2 of 2016 showed a total of 64.3 million PCs were shipped worldwide, which represents a decline of 5.2% compared to the same quarter the previous year.

That's the seventh quarter running in which PC sales have dropped, but there was a surprising reversal of the trend in North America, where shipment numbers increased slightly, picking up to the tune of 1.4%.

Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, observed: "The second and third quarter are typically PC buying season for the US public sectors. Positive second-quarter results could suggest healthy PC sales activities among the public sectors. There is an opportunity for a Windows 10 refresh among businesses, which we expect to see more toward the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2017."

However, Europe remained weak, with PC shipments in EMEA dropping by 4.3%, and while Brexit had no impact on this quarter, it's expected that future UK sales figures will be seriously hit by the country's vote to exit the EU (with unfavourable currency fluctuations causing manufacturers to hike prices).

Brexit blues

Isabelle Durand, another principal research analyst at Gartner, commented: "Post-Brexit sterling was sharply weaker against the dollar, and this will trigger price increases that will likely cause downward pressure on fourth-quarter sales in the UK."

More bad news on the way, then…

Looking at the worldwide figures for individual PC vendors, Lenovo remains top holding a 20.5% market share with 13.2 million PCs shipped – but that was a drop of 2.2% year-on-year.

HP is actually catching Lenovo in second place, moving up to a 19.1% market share (12.3 million PCs sold) which represented a gain of 1.8% on Q2 2015. Third place Dell saw even more growth with a 3.1% year-on-year increase meaning it captured a market share of 15.2%.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, came with Apple slipping from fourth to fifth place, being hit by a drop of 4.9% in overall shipments year-on-year. Asus moved ahead of Apple with a 1.3% increase giving it a total market share of 7.3%, which was just ahead of Cupertino's 7.1%.

However, this isn't such a shock when you consider other recent analyst reports which have pointed to a big decline in MacBook shipments in the first quarter of this year. Times are tough for everyone, even Apple…

Durand noted: "We remain cautious for 2016. Most companies will be focused on surviving the challenges of the next 12 months. The brightest spot in the market could perhaps be an increase in average selling prices, with good sales of high-end gaming PCs and hybrid laptops fuelling this change."

Again, there's nothing new there – 2-in-1 convertibles have long been highlighted as a major growth area going against the grain of the PC industry on the whole, which is why plenty of PC manufacturers are looking to produce these hybrid devices.

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