Amid an ongoing decline in worldwide PC shipments, Apple's Mac sales are holding steady, according to new PC shipping estimates shared today by Gartner.
During the fourth quarter of 2016, Apple shipped an estimated 5.4 million Macs worldwide, up from 5.3 million in the year-ago quarter for an estimated growth of 2.4 percent. During the quarter, Apple held 7.5 percent of the market, up from 7 percent during the fourth quarter of 2015, making it the number five PC vendor in the world.
Lenovo, HP, and Dell, the top three vendors, all saw growth during the quarter as well. Dell, which holds 14.8 percent of the market, saw 5.4 percent growth, while HP, responsible for 20.4 percent of the market, saw 4.3 percent growth. Lenovo, the number one PC vendor with 21.7 percent of the market, saw 1.6 percent growth and shipped 15.9 million PCs, up from 15.5 in the year-ago quarter.
Asus (number 4 vendor) and Acer Group (number 6 vendor) both saw declines in growth, with Asus shipping 5.4 million PCs (down from 6 million in 4Q 2015) and Acer shipping 5 million PCs (down from 5.2 million in 4Q 2015).
Worldwide PC shipments totaled 72.6 million units during the fourth quarter of 2016, a 3.7 percent decline compared to the fourth quarter of 2015. For the full year, PC shipments totaled 269.7 million, a 6.2 drop from 2015. Apple is estimated to have shipped a total of 18.6 million Macs in 2016, down from 20.3 million in 2015.
"Stagnation in the PC market continued into the fourth quarter of 2016 as holiday sales were generally weak due to the fundamental change in PC buying behavior," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "The broad PC market has been static as technology improvements have not been sufficient to drive real market growth.
There have been innovative form factors like 2-in-1s and thin and light notebooks, as well as technology improvements, such as longer battery life. This end of the market has grown fast, led by engaged PC users who put high priority on PCs. However, the market driven by PC enthusiasts is not big enough to drive overall market growth."
Apple's worldwide numbers held steady, but saw better growth in the United States. According to Gartner's data, Apple shipped an estimated 2.1 million PCs in the United States for 12.8 percent of the market. That's up from 2 million shipments (and 11.8 percent market share) in the year-ago quarter.
HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Acer all saw growth in the United States, but Asus saw a sharp dip, shipping only 621,000 PCs, down from 1.2 million in 4Q 2015. Overall PC shipments in the U.S. totaled 16.5 million units, a 1.3 percent decline compared to last year.
IDC also released its shipment estimates today, and as expected, its numbers tell a different story, in part because of the difference in the way Windows-based tablets are counted by each firm.
According to IDC, worldwide PC shipments totaled 70.2 million units during 4Q 2016, with Apple shipping an estimated 5.26 million Macs, down from 5.3 million in 4Q 2015 for -0.9 percent growth and 7.4 percent market share (up from 7.3 percent last year). Similar to Gartner, IDC believes Apple shipped a total of 18.5 million Macs in 2016, down from 20.5 million in 2015, for an overall decline in growth of 9.8 percent.
It's important to note that data from Gartner and IDC is preliminary and that the numbers can shift, sometimes dramatically and sometimes less so. Last year, for example, IDC and Gartner predicted worldwide 4Q 2015 shipments of 5.7 million Macs, while the actual number was 5.3 million.
We'll know more about Apple's 2016 performance and how well its new MacBook Pros have been selling following the company's next earnings release on January 31.