PC shipments continued their downward spiral in 2015

With the exception of Apple, worldwide shipments of personal computers continued to tumble in the final months of 2015.

Despite overall weakness, Lenovo is making considerable inroads in the US.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Personal computers wheezed their way to the end of 2015, even as Apple managed to gain ground.

Buffeted by consumer infatuation with tablets and phones, worldwide shipments of PCs continued spiraling lower in the final three months of 2015, according to research firms IDC and Gartner. Consumer interest in PCs was so weak, shipments for the year fell to the lowest point since 2008, according to IDC.

In addition to mobile devices, which are well suited to posting videos and photos to social sites, an array of hardware options, like touchscreens and detachable keyboards prompted consumers to hesitate before making purchases. Wearables, like connected watches and health trackers, also attracted consumers during the holiday shopping season.

"Notebooks were off the top wish list of holiday gifts," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a release. "At the same time, consumers' interest shifted to other consumer electronics devices such as TV's and wearables."

In separate reports Tuesday, Gartner estimated worldwide PC shipments fell 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter from the same quarter a year earlier to 75.7 million units, while IDC reported shipments fell 10.6 percent to 71.9 million units during the same period.

Despite overall weakness, Apple managed to sell more of its premium computers, increasing its share of the global PC market to 7.9 percent in the quarter and to 7.5 percent for the year, according to IDC. Apple's PC shipments for the fourth quarter rose nearly 3 percent to 5.7 million units, according to IDC.

The success of Apple's MacBooks and iMacs shows there is still "strong demand for innovative, even premium-priced systems that put user experience first," Jay Chou, a research manager at IDC, said in a release.

The reports also show Lenovo, the Chinese manufacturer that purchased IBM's computer business in 2004, making considerable inroads in the US, even though HP and Dell remain the country's top PC makers. Lenovo, already the top PC maker worldwide, saw its US shipments jump 21 percent from the year ago quarter to 2.1 million, according to Gartner.

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