PC sales plunge to lowest level in half a decade

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

There's more bad news for the PC industry, with the latest report from one analyst firm showing another major plunge in the sales of devices.

According to Canalys, total global PC shipments (which includes desktops, laptops, convertibles and also tablets) comprised 101 million units in the first quarter of 2016, which is a drop of 13% compared to Q1 in the previous year.

More to the point, it's the lowest total the bean counters have recorded since the second quarter of 2011, almost five years ago now.

Sales were weak across the board, save for one exception – 2-in-1s showed good growth, rising by 13% year-on-year. Canalys observed: "Shipments of two-in-ones and detachable tablets are expected to continue to do well in the US and will grow in high income markets."

Of course, many of these devices, like the iPad Pro and Surface, are too pricey to make much of an impact in low income countries in the near future at least. Tim Coulling, Senior Analyst at Canalys, commented: "Although other vendors are coming to market with cheaper alternatives, they are unlikely to have a big impact on volumes in the short term."

Notebook nastiness

Tablet sales fell 15% compared to the previous year, a major drop, but not as big as the fall in notebook shipments in EMEA, which witnessed a frightening decline of 18%. Both laptops and tablets are suffering at the hands of the aforementioned increasingly popular convertibles.

Because the figures from Canalys include tablets as PCs, Apple is the top vendor just a smidgen ahead of Lenovo, although even Cupertino saw a big dip this quarter with a fall of 17%. In total, it sold just over 14 million devices, dropping a great deal further than Lenovo thanks to the weakness in tablets. Apple and Lenovo are effectively neck-and-neck right now, as the former's lead is marginal.

We had more PC doom and gloom from Gartner's recent figures for the first quarter of 2016, which showed a 9.6% drop compared to Q1 of 2015, with total shipments falling below 65 million units for the first time since 2007, no less (that's not including tablets).

Every analyst firm is certainly agreed on the fact that there is a huge PC slump right now, and the only bright spot is 2-in-1 devices.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).