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Perspectives on Mac and PC Shipments and Sales for 2016 – The Mac Observer (blog)

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Both Gartner and IDC reports are out for 2016 Mac and PC shipments. They are in good agreement. But the reports on the reports as well as the reports themselves are often challenging to digest. There are worldwide vs U.S. shipments, and that’s not the same as sales for PCs. There’s year-over-year for the total year and for the 4th quarter shipments. There’s Apple’s ranking, and there’s also the issue of whether Apple lost ground against PCs.

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Cautious optimism. New MacBook Pros the start of something big in 2017?

Rather than delve into free text, it seems more helpful to make some bullet point observations.

  1. Compared to 2015, total PC shipments in 2016 were down by 5.7 (Gartner) to 6.2 (IDC) percent.
  2. Two companies, HP and Dell, did better than the industry average and had small growth. At least according to IDC.
  3. Apple’s total Mac shipments for the year were down about 10 percent. That means Mac shipments were down by more than the PC industry average.
  4. The popularity of Apple’s new 2016 MacBook Pros could not offset a year of declining Mac sales compared to 2015.
  5. Apple’s share of the worldwide PC market, for many years, had been increasing. Apple has been neck-and-neck with Asus for 4th spot overall, but has fallen back into 5th after a nearly 10 percent decline.
  6. It’s difficult to determine whether declining Mac sales on 2016, by about a million units, can be accounted for by defections to other platforms. That’s despite Microsoft’s non-quantitative claims.
  7. At my local Microsoft store (Park Meadows Mall), I inquired about the sales of the Surface Studio. The response was that “We can’t keep them in stock.” But that could mean small shipments and correspondingly small sales. Microsoft hasn’t released specific sales numbers to my knowledge.
    Microsoft Surface Studio

    Is this Microsoft Surface Studio, basically a 28-inch iPad, a drop in the bucket? Or part of a new wave of premium PCs?

  8. Two companies, HP and Microsoft, are making specific moves into certain technical markets as a result of Apple’s failure to update most of its Mac product line in 2016. This poor performance by Apple has inspired the competition. Plus, that competition finally has a respectable OS (Windows 10) to marry with advanced hardware.
  9. It has been predicted that PC shipments would continue to decline in 2016 and return to mild growth in 2017. In part, that’s because of the superiority of Windows 10 compared to Windows 8 (inventory finally depleted) and, in part, due to the appearance of premium, mobile PCs—which are very attractive and also offer higher profit margins.

As a result of the last item above, Apple will need to return to growth in Mac shipments in 2017 to keep from losing yet more ground. In a recent editorial, I pointed out that Windows 10 is designed for a touch-sensitive future while the macOS is not. As a result, for the first time in awhile, in a reversal, a rise in PC shipments by HP, Dell and Microsoft could be sustained against the Mac. It’s something to be monitored.

Apple observers are cautiously optimistic that 2017 will be a much better, more exciting year for the Mac. Tim Cook has said:

Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we’re committed to [Mac] desktops. If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.

And now we wait.

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