FRAMINGHAM, MA – Worldwide PC shipments are forecast to decline 6.4% year-over-year in 2016, says the International Data Corp. This is an improvement over August's projection for a decline of 7.2% in 2016. While IDC's outlook for 2017 remains at a loss of 2.1% year-over-year, absolute volumes are slightly higher based on stronger 2016 shipments.

The third quarter of 2016 saw a year-over-year decline in shipments of 4.6%, more than 2 percentage points ahead of expectations.

Although factors such as the transition to Windows 10 played a role, third quarter gains came largely as a result of stronger momentum in the US, Western Europe, and Japan, and were driven by channel buildup in anticipation of component shortages in areas such as display panels and storage. This is expected to slightly boost shipments into early 2017, but will not carry into later periods, says the firm.

Beyond 2016, the PC shipment outlook has been raised slightly, and continues to trend toward stabilization with modest commercial growth starting in 2018. Commercial notebook shipments are expected to grow during 2016 and throughout the forecast, with a peak at 3.7% in 2019. Commercial desktop growth is expected to be effectively flat by 2018, while consumer notebook and desktop shipments are expected to decline slightly throughout the forecast.

Competition from tablets and smartphones continues to ease as those markets mature. Nevertheless, overlap in usage and converging designs is accelerating the shift in notebooks to ultra slim and convertible designs, which are now expected to account for almost 63% of notebook shipments by 2020. Combining detachable tablets with PCs, the market is projected to decline 3.2% in 2016, with small positive growth in later years.

"The PC market continues to perform close to expectations," said Loren Loverde, vice president, Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research. "Some volatility in emerging regions is being offset by incremental gains in larger mature markets, while the interaction with tablets and phones is stabilizing. We continue to see steady progression toward smaller desktops and notebooks as replacement buying helps stabilize overall shipments in the coming years."

"Despite continued weakness in the consumer segment, the US PC market is showing some signs of stability in the near future, with some sources of optimism for the long haul," said Neha Mahajan, senior research analyst, Devices & Displays. "Backed by early Windows 10 transitions that are expected to boost commercial PC shipments in the next couple of years, and steady growth of PCaaS (PC as a Service), which should help shorten refresh cycles of commercial systems in the long-term, the overall US PC market sentiment certainly seems to be improving."

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