PC sales still falling, Apple still growing

New research from Gartner and IDC indicated that, although PC shipments continue to fall, Apple shipments were actually up. Here's a look at why.

Image: James Martin/CNET

At the beginning of each year, as data from the previous year begins to roll in, we get to take a look back at the real winners and losers in tech. One of the biggest losers in 2015 was the PC market, hitting lows not seen in the past eight years.

On Tuesday, both IDC and Gartner released their numbers for the PC market in 2015 and the results were dismal. According to IDC's report the worldwide PC market fell 10.4% from 2014 to 2015, while Gartner had the drop pegged at 8%.

Leading PC manufacturers HP, Dell, Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer all experienced a drop in shipments for the year according to Gartner and IDC. Some vendors experienced growth in certain regions—such as Lenovo in the US—but still decreased overall.

Despite the overall trends downward, one company continued its growth throughout 2015: Apple. The question is why?

First we have to look at the problems that are plaguing the PC market as a whole. The form factor simply just isn't as exciting as it used to be with smartphones and tablets taking over many of its previously core functionalities.

For those using PCs, IDC's Jay Chou said, "Mainstream desktop and notebooks see their lifetimes stretched ever longer." This is likely especially true in the enterprise where cloud-based and network-based applications require fewer upgrades, just a machine powerful enough to adequately run a web browser.

That long lifecycle could have been further extended by the release of Windows 10, as upgrading to a new OS could have satisfied the desire for a "new" PC.

SEE:Windows 10 dampens sales of new PCs as industry sees historic slump

Finally, poor holiday sales didn't provide the boost vendors would typically see in the fourth quarter. However, that is where the differences between Apple and the rest of the market begin. Gartner's Mikako Kitagawa said that part of Apple's growth was due to the fact that it didn't experience the same slump in holiday sales as the rest of the market.

Apple's market is highly saturated, as its typically high price points limit the number of potential buyers. However, Kitagawa said, Apple's entry level MacBook price has been under $900 since early 2015, and Apple shipments grew after that price drop happened. Kitagawa said Apple's holiday promotion saw the price dip under $800, which could have led to even more US shipments.

Outside of the US, Kitagawa said growth was driven by the Asia Pacific region, with China playing an important role.

"China is the second largest PC market but Apple's share in the market has been low," Kitagawa said.

Still, she said, Apple has been investing heavily in the region. Apple's website currently lists 28 stores in the country. In mature markets like the US, Europe, and Japan, the market for Apple products is saturated, but there's still opportunity to grow in China.

"Apple's target market in China is not saturated yet," Kitagawa said. "We think that Apple will continue to increase its presence in China, and grab their available market in China."

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Conner Forrest is News Editor for TechRepublic. He covers startups and enterprise technology and is passionate about the convergence of tech and culture.

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