PC market notches fifth straight year of declining shipments

Shipments slid 6.2 percent in 2016 as PCs battle other devices for your attention, according to Gartner.

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You're carrying fewer PCs home from the store, according to new research results.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If the global PC market death spiral were a person, it would now be old enough to attend kindergarten.

Five years. That's how long demand for personal computers has been steadily declining, according to research firm Gartner.

Preliminary results released Wednesday show that PC makers shipped 269 million units in 2016, a 6.2 percent decrease from the previous year. Shipments in the fourth quarter totaled 72.6 million units, a drop of 3.7 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

"The broad PC market has been static as technology improvements have not been sufficient to drive real market growth," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in a statement.

The PC market has been plummeting for the past several years as more consumers have opted for phones and tablets over traditional desktops and laptops. At the same time, more people have hung onto their PCs longer rather than refreshing them every few years.

"Consumers in this segment have high dependency on smartphones, so they stretch PC life cycles longer," Kitagawa said.

Gartner did point to one encouraging sign for the market: four of the top six vendors recorded modest increases in worldwide shipments during the fourth quarter compared with the year-ago quarter.

Market leader Lenovo increased shipments by 1.6 percent, followed by HP and Dell, which increased 4.3 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively. Apple, No. 5 PC maker for the quarter, increased 2.4 percent, while No. 4 Asus and No. 6 Acer Group dropped 8.5 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

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Gartner

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