Apple vs. PC Shipments: “PC” Decline Worse Than Reported

Based on data from Gartner and IDC, AllThingsD reported that it was a very bad year for PC shipments, except at Apple

I have a problem with that. 

It isn’t that it’s not true, but rather that PC growth vs. Apple is even worse than reported. To see why, let’s look at the chart from Gartner for US “PC” shipments, where the conclusion is that Apple growth increased 20.7% while PC growth declined 5.9%. 


It makes sense until you realize Apple’s (i.e., Mac) data is included in the same total to which it’s being compared. In other words, Apple’s stellar year is propping up the “PC” (i.e., non-Mac) numbers, making “PC” shipments look better than they really were.

If you truly want to know how Apple did in the US on its own against “PCs”, you must subtract it from the latter’s numbers. Here’s what you get: 

  • Total 4Q11: 15,854,964
  • Total 4Q10: 17,342,605
  • 4Q11-4Q10 Growth: -8.5

The originally reported dismal “PC” growth of -5.9% becomes an even more dismal -8.5% without Apple’s numbers propping it up. That -2.6% delta is not insignificant, it’s over 40% worse than what was reported.

IDC’s numbers are also available. As usual, they do not agree completely with Gartner, yet the trend is the same.

Any way you look at it, Apple is exceeding the “PC” growth rate, and if you pull their numbers from “PC” shipments to get a true Mac vs. PC comparson, the latter’s state is revealed to be even worse than it appears at first glance.

12 thoughts on “Apple vs. PC Shipments: “PC” Decline Worse Than Reported

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  4. Just a small quibble here, with the use of the term “growth” and how it’s used. If you are to read “growth increased 20.7% while PC growth declined 5.9%” literally, then it would mean that the growth rate (ie the derivate of the actual growth) was 20.7%, while that the PC market still grew, but its rate of growth had become slower, while still continuing to grow.But what the chart says is something else and much simpler: Apple’s PC sales grew (ie increased) 20.7%, while the rest of the industry’s sales shrunk (ie decreased) by 5.9%.Sometimes the simplest way of saying things is best.

  5. Add to Apple numbers all the iPads sold, and then Apple results are amazing.

  6. Remember when these numbers used to exclude Apple’s PCs? Ironic or deliberate?

  7. Also, Apple’s 5.2M number is the worldwide number, not a US-only estimate.

  8. Jussi and Chris,That’s right. Apple said that nearly 60% of their sales were overseas. If we apply 40% to the Mac’s 5.2M sales we van see that 2M+ is in the ballpark. In other words, Gartner’s estimate wasn’t too bad.

  9. Chris,This report is about US market. The 5.2M Apple reported was world wide.

  10. Chris, Gartner and IDC release preliminary numbers (basically, estimates) at the end of the quarter. Their report came out a little over a week ago, before yesterday’s Apple announcement.

  11. naive question I am sure, but why did apple report 5.2 M macs and this report only has about 2 M macs?

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