PC first quarter stats from IDC, Gartner have a few interesting subplots

The first quarter market share and unit standings from IDC and Gartner were straightforward, but the subplots among the vendors made for an interesting read.

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IDC and Gartner released their first quarter PC unit and revenue estimates and the global market fell 3 percent, according to IDC. Economic uncertainty, Intel shortages and corporate demand painted a mixed picture.

That story is straightforward enough, but it's worth noting a few interesting subplots within the IDC and Gartner first quarter PC sales recaps.

Here's what we learned about the PC market in the first quarter.

Apple holds steady, but hardware issues may be holding the company back. IDC's statement on PC sales was interesting on a few levels. First, the IDC data says that Apple's market share was 6.9 percent in the first quarter, up from 6.8 percent. Based on units, however, Apple's growth was down 0.5 percent. Given IDC's estimates that PC shipments were down 3 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, you could argue Apple outperformed the market -- even though Dell and Lenovo showed positive unit growth. But IDC laid out the following:

Apple saw a slight decline during the quarter with 4.1 million units shipped. Though the company refreshed some of its notebooks recently, the latest models have not been met with the greatest fanfare as reviews point to hardware issues that may affect sales in the coming months.

Now the butterfly keyboard issue is real, but it's hard to argue that sales are taking a hit. 

Also: MacBooks still have keyboard problems? I went to two Apple stores to find out | Apple: We're sorry if your MacBook's still suffering from butterfly keyboard problems | The downsides of buying a new Mac

Chromebooks are rocking. Yes, Acer, a big Chromebook maker, was "challenged" by an Intel CPU shortage, but "was able to sidestep the issue in a few cases by incorporating older CPUs from Intel into its Chromebooks." Gartner said that the global PC market would have declined 3.5 percent in the first quarter including Chromebook shipments instead of the 4.6 percent it actually fell. The best Chromebooks for business in 2019 

AMD's gain is due to Intel's pain. Gartner analyst Mikano Kitagawa said that AMD has become a real alternative to Intel. "The supply constraints affected the vendor competitive landscape as leading vendors had better allocation of chips and also began sourcing alternative CPUs from AMD," she said.  AMD takes aim at Intel with new 2nd-gen Ryzen Pro and Athlon Pro mobile processors


Enterprise demand remains strong, but the growth may not last due to peak Windows 10. Both IDC and Gartner said business PC demand was strong due to the Windows 10 refresh cycle. Lenovo, Dell and HP all fared well relative to the broader PC market due to enterprise demand. Gartner noted:

The PC refresh driven by Windows 10 has been a driving force of business PC growth over the past three years, but Gartner forecasts that 2019 will be the last year in which shipments will be impacted by this refresh.

Notebooks are off to a tough start. Given the enterprise demand, desktops fared relatively well. But among U.S. PC vendors only Lenovo saw notebook growth from a year ago, said IDC.

Global uncertainty isn't helping sales. Latin America PC demand tanked due to a bevy of economic and political upheaval. Japan fared well, China stuffed the channel and EMEA fell due to component shortages.