Microsoft’s Hardware Push And The Falling PC Market

The PC industry had a big week. Microsoft debuted several news devices built to run its new Windows 10 operating system, garnering a more-positive press cycle than I anticipated. The software giant also announced that 110 million devices now ran the new operating system, a number that it seems proud of.

The glow stemming from all of that was tempered a few days later by the release of new PC sales data from both Gartner and IDC.

Two quotes:

Gartner: “Worldwide PC shipments totaled 73.7 million units in the third quarter of 2015, a 7.7 percent decline from the third quarter of 2014[.]”

IDC: “Worldwide PC shipments totaled nearly 71.0 million units in the third quarter of 2015 (3Q15), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. This volume represented a year-on-year decline of -10.8% – slightly worse than projections for a decline of -9.2%.”

So some good, and some bad.

A few questions: Will Windows 10’s release lead to lift in PC sales, even if temporary? If that is the case, did the release of Windows 10 come too late in the quarter to make much of an impact? If that is not the case, then it seems that Windows 10 will not drive an increase in PC sales.

The very first blog post I wrote for The Next Web — where I worked before coming to TechCrunch — had the following headline: “No Windows 7 PC Sales Bump Coming.” And that was Windows 7, mind, one of most popular versions of Windows ever.

I don’t recall Windows 8 doing the PC market many favors, either, at its debut. So we have at least some historical precedent that new builds of Windows are not key drivers of new unit volume.

Gartner and IDC, for whatever it is worth, appear to be modestly optimistic about the holiday quarter, a key sales period for PCs. Perhaps strong Windows 10 marketing can aid the pace of shipments.

But for now, despite a very interesting new operating system, the PC market remains mostly in line with expectations. Expectations that point down. 71 or 73 million PCs in three months is still a lot of hardware, revenue, and the like. But it’s a smaller number than it once was.

A final note, as we will not have this set of data again for another quarter: The global economy isn’t its most healthy at the moment, especially due to uncertainty in the Chinese economy. We’re discussing the global market, which leaves us forced to consider broader global trends. If China continues to deteriorate, it could impact PC purchases as companies rein in spend.

I suppose all we can say for now is that the PC market remains weak, but that it’s likely a bit too soon to tell what impact Windows 10 and its constituent new hardware may have heading into the last quarter of 2015.

Place your bets in the comments.