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%. 

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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.