Is the PC back?

Gartner’s own press release has an interesting spin:

“After Two Years of Decline, Worldwide PC Shipments Experienced Flat Growth in Second Quarter of 2014, According to Gartner”

Gartner’s actual figure is 0.1% growth. Gartner and IDC measure slightly different quantities as “PC” but they don’t disagree much. IDC still shows declining PC sales at about -1.7%. However both also include the Mac in their accounting of PC. If we were to remove the Mac and measure “Windows PC”1 Gartner’s figures would show -0.8% drop in PC ex-Mac shipments.

The difference in growth between the Mac and non-Mac PCs is shown in the following graph.

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 7-23-5.23.08 PM

As Apple puts it, the Mac grew faster (and hence gained share) for 31 out of the last 32 quarters.  It missed on this perfect record during the fourth quarter of 2012 when the then fresh new iMac was impossible to buy due to production issues.

So as far as the Mac is concerned the slowing of the decline in PC unit shipments isn’t at its expense. What has been discussed as a cause for the moderation of market contraction is the expiration of Windows XP support. Certainly that seems plausible and is supported anecdotally. If it’s true then the PC respite may be transient.

To put a finer point on it, it would be useful to know  revenues and profits  in addition to volumes. Thanks to Charles Arthur for providing most of the data that allows this picture to be drawn:

The revenue pictures shows that (non-Mac) PCs have been declining for almost four years and into the present quarter and operating margin (“profit”) has shrunk to nearly $1 billion (while being generous with “other” PC vendors).

Incidentally, the Mac is nearly the highest revenue PC brand and by far the most profitable. Indeed, it’s more profitable than all the other vendors put together.

If one includes the Mac, the PC industry may be limping along, but if we were to exclude it then this post conforms to Betteridge’s law of headlines.

  1. In quotes because this total includes Linux and Chromebook []