PC sales stumble in Q4 amid CPU shortages, China trade war

IDC and Gartner market share stats illustrate how trade wars and CPU shortages hurt fourth quarter sales for PC makers.

Just when the PC market found its footing the U.S. trade war with China and processor shortages put the kibosh on unit sales, according to stats from both IDC and Gartner.

IDC reported that shipments of traditional PCs came in at 68.1 million units in the fourth quarter, down 3.7 percent from a year ago. The fourth quarter decline was the largest since the third quarter of 2016. For the year, PC sales were down 0.4 percent, or roughly flat. 

According to IDC, vendors built inventory in the third quarter ahead of processor shortages and the trade war. The PC industry is driven by consumer demand in the fourth quarter, but a rocky stock market and volatility  hampered demand. Multiple retailers cited a slowdown in sales after the initial Black Friday and Cyber Monday pop.

Gartner noted that PC makers were also hit by the processor shortage since they couldn't meet business PC upgrade demand. Gartner expects demand to improve in 2019 as CPUs become more available. Intel has stated that it was struggling with manufacturing issues even though its financial results have been solid

The top 3 vendors boosted market share and Lenovo was No. 1, according to IDC and Gartner. HP and Dell were No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Apple market share fell in the fourth quarter globally compared to a year ago, but slightly increased in the U.S. Here's the global standings via IDC: PC makers rolled out new models at CES 2019. 

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And Gartner's U.S. shipment tally:

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