Global PC shipments are at their lowest point in a decade.

A total of 62.2 million units were shipped worldwide in the first quarter of 2017, a 2.4 per cent decline from the first quarter of 2016, according to Gartner, Inc. This is the first time the PC shipment market has gone below 63 million units in a quarter in 10 years.

The US-based IT research and advisory firm says that this decline is a result of low consumer demand, an unwillingness to replace older PCs, and the abandoning of the PC market altogether. However, the industry experienced modest growth in the business PC market, with this segment still placing significant importance on its main work device.

Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa explains that maintaining a strong position in the business market “will be critical to keep sustainable growth in the PC market.”

“Winners in the business segment will ultimately be the survivors in this shrinking market,” she adds. “Vendors who do not have a strong presence in the business market will encounter major problems, and they will be forced to exit the PC market in the next five years. However, there will also be specialized niche players with purpose-built PCs, such as gaming PCs and ruggedized laptops.”

Gartner warns that 2017 poses “extremely” limited opportunities for vendors beyond the top three – Lenovo, HP and Dell, who will “battle” for the large-enterprise segment – except for Apple, which has “a solid customer base in specific verticals.”

It also points out that competition among the top three vendors “intensified” in Q1 this year, with Lenovo and HP in a virtual tie for first spot.

“Lenovo accounted for 19.9 per cent of worldwide PC shipments, followed by HP with 19.5 per cent share, and Dell at 15 per cent share,” the report indicates.

HP had the strongest growth among the top six vendors, with its global PC shipments increasing 6.5 per cent and growing in all regions, especially in the US, where it rose by 15.9 per cent.

Dell reached four consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth in Q1, and saw PC shipments increase in all regions except the US. Similarly, Lenovo’s growth exceeded the regional average in all key regions except the US.

In terms of geography, the US market experienced a 2.4 per cent decline from Q1 in 2016, totaling 12.3 million units. The decline is attributed to the weak consumer market, Gartner says.

The EMEA region witnessed a 6.9 per cent decline year-over-year, totaling 17.9 million units. However, Russia actuall saw single-digit PC growth thanks to the stabilization of its local economy.

The Asia/Pacific PC market also experienced some stabilization, recording an 0.8 per cent decline and totaling 22.8 million units.