PC market significantly improves during holiday shopping season

The research firm disclosed that the global shipments of conventional PCs recorded 1.5 percent year-over-year fall to 70.2 million units in the fourth quarter.

IDC said that 17 million PCs were shipped in the US during the fourth quarter, which made for a "slight decline" from the previous year during the same time period.

"Holiday sales were generally weak due to the fundamental change in PC-buying behavior", she said in an email statement, adding that the one bright spot in the market - PC enthusiasts who frequently upgrade - is not enough to make up for users relying more on their smartphones. Contraction of the consumer PC market has also slowed as growth and competition from tablets and phones has eased up.

Lenovo's PC shipments totaled 15.7 million, growing by 1.7 percent, maintaining a 22.4 percent market share.

In Q4, the top six vendors were Lenovo, HP, Dell, Asus, Apple, and Acer.

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Dell and Apple saw increases as well, with the latter having recently released the most significant update to its high-end MacBook Pro line in years.

However, PC shipments plunged more than 10% during the 2015 fourth quarter compared to the final quarter of 2014, which means although PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2016 were down slightly, they were still far from being able to make up the huge drop in 2015 fourth quarter sales.

The ranking of the world's top PC makers held steady in 2016 from a year earlier. In the same quarter in 2015, Apple had shipped 5,312,000 units for a global market share of 7%. Interestingly, Apple is only a percentage point behind Lenovo in terms of market share and if the company revamps and seriously updates it PC offerings (expected throughout 2017), it shouldn't be too hard for Apple to climb up the pole to third place by the time the 2017 Holiday quarter is over.

Global shipments of PCs fell for the fifth straight year, according to Gartner estimates. According to Gartner, Asus' US shipments fell a staggering 48% in Q4 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

"Although this might signal regained consumer confidence in the PC market, with most of the sales being driven by aggressive promotions in the holiday season, it needs to be seen how much of the real demand is carried forward in the coming quarters", said Mahajan. IDC also marked only a slight decline in the USA market for Q4. And it is perhaps notable that neither Gartner nor IDC elected to predict what PC sales will look like going forward.