SAN FRANCISCO — Despite some glimmers of recovery, the personal computer industry is still struggling with declining sales, according to two market reports issued Monday that show global PC shipments fell in 2014 for the third year in a row.

One research firm, Gartner, estimated shipments actually increased 1 percent in the fourth quarter. Using different methods, a second firm calculated that shipments fell 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter, but that’s not as bad as the 4.8 percent decline that researchers at International Data Corp. had forecast for the period.

“There is improvement in demand,” said Jay Chou, a senior researcher at IDC, although he added that 2014 was “still another difficult year” for the PC industry.

Sales actually improved for several of the world’s biggest computer-makers, including Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, which gained market share from smaller manufacturers in the last quarter. Lenovo remains the world’s leading PC seller, but HP showed sizable gains – especially in the United States. Apple also increased its overall sales, although it’s not a leading seller outside the United States and Western markets.