Preliminary results for the third quarter of 2018 (3Q18) show that shipments of traditional PCs (desktop, notebook, and workstation) totaled nearly 67.4 million units, marking a decline of 0.9 percent in year-on-year terms, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker. Unlike 2Q18, which grew, the 3Q18 results nonetheless outperformed the forecast which called for a decline of 3.0 percent due to several factors.
The traditional PC market has trended toward stabilization since 2017 and even flirted with solid growth in 2Q18. While demand from mature regions remained key to the market, many emerging markets had to contend with unfavorable currency headwinds and other politico-economic factors that constricted demand. In addition, heading into Q3 there were some concerns about processor shortages. Despite these concerns, most of the top OEMs were able to fulfill a sizable portion of their demand and outperform the market. All in all, the quarter appears to have been driven by pockets of strong demand as well as a focus on increasing inventory ahead of further supply issues and expected price hikes. From a geographic perspective, all regions exceeded forecast, though Latin America and the Asia-Pacific saw year-on-year declines.
“Q3 came in better than expected,” said Jay Chou, research manager with IDC’s Personal Computing Device Tracker. “But the outlook remains uncertain as we head into the holiday season when volume will be boosted by many consumer-oriented promotions in entry-level SKUs. AMD supply could help with processor demand somewhat, but it will also take time for OEMs to spec in more models.”
“Despite looming concerns around CPU shortages, the PC market in the United States turned in a good quarterbacked by strong results in the notebook segment,” said Neha Mahajan, senior research analyst, US Devices & Displays. “Healthy business PC volume, steady Chromebook shipments to U.S. K-12, and a growing gaming consumer base have been the key reasons for the optimism around the US PC markets.”