PC Sales Continue on Long Downward Slide

The personal computer continued to fade last year, with sales falling to their lowest level since 2006 as consumers and businesses pick up smartphones and other devices instead.

Researcher Gartner says 269.7 million personal computers sold worldwide in 2016, a decline of 6.2 percent from a year earlier and the fifth consecutive annual decline. PC sales have slumped 24 percent from their record high just above 350 million units in 2011.

People are holding onto old PCs longer, or not replacing them at all, as they rely on smartphones for most of their day-to-day computing needs, said Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst with Gartner.

Computer makers have tried to breathe life into the market with two-in-one laptop tablet hybrids, curved displays and lighter, thinner packages. But that hasn't been enough to offset what Kitagawa called a "fundamental change" in consumer behavior.

The ranking of the world's top PC makers held steady in 2016 from a year earlier.

China-based Lenovo, owner of IBM's former PC business, retained the top spot with 55.8 million units shipped, Gartner estimates. HP was second, at 52.4 million, followed by Dell, Asus and Apple.

Of those, only Dell saw sales rise on the year, by 2.6 percent. Apple recorded the largest decline, with shipments falling 8.7 percent.

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