Analysts are a fickle bunch, particularly in the PC sector. One moment the sky is falling, as was the narrative when tablets first permeated the market (and for a long time after), and now the PC market "seems to be back on track."
Analyst firm IDC made the observation as it pertains to the PC market in the United States, following "a sluggish start to the year." It's not just in the US, though, that PC shipments are rebounding. Desktops, laptops, and workstations totaled 64.9 million units in the second quarter of 2019, just before AMD's third-generation Ryzen launch.
That represents a 4.7 percent year-over-year spike, which IDC says is "notably higher than expected." The primary reason given is the easing of supply shortages.
"Supply for Intel's processors improved markedly during the quarter, allowing most PC vendors to fulfill old orders while also shipping a healthy supply of new PCs into the channels," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. "Additionally, the threat of increased tariffs led some PC makers to ship a surplus of desktops and notebooks, thereby artificially propping up the PC market during the second quarter."
Gartner's bean counters found a similar trend, just with slightly different numbers—63 million PC units shipments, up from 62 million in the same quarter a year ago.
"Worldwide PC shipments growth was driven by demand from the Windows 10 refresh in the business market in the second quarter of 2019. Desktop PC growth was strong, which offset a decline in mobile PC shipments," said Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at Gartner.
"Additionally, there are signs that the Intel CPU shortage is easing, which has been an ongoing impact to the market for the past 18 months. The shortage mainly impacted small and midsize vendors as large vendors took advantage and continued to grow, taking market share away from the smaller vendors that struggled to secure CPUs," Kitagawa added.
Both firms have the top three spots going to Lenovo, HP, and Dell, in that order. Neither firm commented on what impact AMD's latest Ryzen launch will have in future quarters, which I think is more interesting than pointing out what we already know (that the PC market is not dead by any stretch of the imagination).
Former Maximum PC editor and current PC World writer Gordon Mah Ung noted that people actually stood in line to buy AMD's newest Ryzen 3000 desktop processors. This is not something that typically occurs with CPU launches. However, it underscores the excitement surrounding AMD's latest tech, and is potentially a precursor to continued growth in PC shipments.
Next year is when it will get really interesting, though, provided Intel is finally able to counter with volume shipments of 10nm CPUs.