The analysts at IDC have released their worldwide PC sales numbers for the first quarter of 2023, and the news isn’t good for PC companies. IDC says that all the companies combined shipped 56.9 million PCs in Q1 of 2023, down 29 percent from Q1 of 2022, when pandemic-era demand for new computers was just beginning to fade. Apple’s Mac sales are often immune to these kinds of fluctuations, but IDC says the company was hit particularly hard this quarter, with shipments falling from 6.9 million units in Q1 of 2022 to 4.1 million units in Q1 of 2023. That’s a drop of 40.5 percent, more than that seen by Lenovo, HP, Dell, Asus, and all the companies lumped in with “Others” in IDC’s data.
IDC has noted that PC demand through 2022 was still higher than pre-pandemic levels, despite falling from the highs seen in 2020 and 2021. But the first quarter of 2023 shows “at least a temporary return to pre-COVID patterns.” That pattern, for those who don’t remember, was one of a long, slow decline as people replaced PCs less often and did more of their computing on smartphones and other devices. IDC says PC makers shipped 60.6 million PCs in Q1 of 2018 and 59.2 million PCs in Q1 of 2019.
IDC data should be taken with a grain of salt; these are guesses about sales based on available data. Apple doesn’t release Mac unit sales as part of its financial reports anymore, but its Mac revenue numbers usually don’t quite line up with IDC’s unit sales figures, even though the broad trendlines are similar.
Mac revenue as reported by Apple was up by 25 percent year over year as recently as September (PDF), defying the sales decline that was hitting every other PC company at the time (IDC said Mac unit sales were up by 40 percent). But Apple-reported Mac revenue fell by 29 percent year over year last quarter, and it looks like the quarter that ended in March might not be much better despite the introduction of new M2 Mac minis and MacBook Pros. The MacBook Pros are among the more expensive Macs that Apple sells, though, which could help the company’s revenue numbers look a bit better than IDC’s unit sales estimate suggests.
IDC suggests that the PC industry could recover “toward the end of the year” and into 2024 as consumers and businesses begin to replace pandemic-era purchases and as migration to Windows 11 continues, though an economic recession could prolong the slump.