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PC sales getting even sicker Featured

PC sales are down, across the board and across the globe. Recent figures show the decline that set in nearly two years ago continues, with no end in sight. This marks the sixth consecutive quarter of declining worldwide shipments.

The declines are not small – they are massive. People are increasingly moving to tablets and smartphones as their primary computing devices.

Analyst group Gartner has this morning published its preliminary worldwide PC market data for the third quarter of 2013. It’s bad news. Worldwide PC shipments totalled 80.3 million units in the third quarter of 2013, an 8.6% decline from the same period last year.

Country-level data for Australia, New Zealand and other markets will be available when final results are published in around four weeks. Overall Asia Pacific, PC shipments were at 28.1 million units in the third quarter of 2013, an 11.2% decline from the third quarter of 2012 – results sure to be reflected locally. This means the decline in Asia Pacific is even greater than the global decline.

It’s made even worse because the third quarter is often referred to as the 'back-to-school' quarter for PC sales in North America and Europe. In those regions sales dropped to their lowest volume since 2008. That’s before the GFC.

"Consumers' shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets,” said Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

“The higher availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets."

HP and Lenovo have been virtually neck and neck for the top global position in the PC market. Lenovo led this quarter, as it did last quarter, with 17.6% of global PC shipments, and HP had 17.1% of shipments.

Weakness in the Chinese market continued to affect Lenovo's overall growth. But strong growth in the Americas, as well as EMEA, offset the declining PC shipments for Lenovo in the Asia Pacific market. HP recorded positive shipment growth in 3Q13 for the first time since 1Q12. With the exception of Latin America, HP's growth exceeded the average growth across all regions.

Dell's PC shipments exceeded growth rate averages across all regions. Acer's shipments declined 22.6% compared with a year ago, as a reduction in netbook shipments impacted overall PC shipment results. “Acer has heavily sought opportunities in other device markets, said Kitagawa. “Asus saw PC shipments decline 22.5%. Asus has clearly shifted its focus from PCs to tablets. Asus's tablet shipments were nearly equal to its mobile PC shipments in 3Q13.”

In the US market, PC shipments totalled 16.1 million units in the third quarter of 2013, a 3.5% increase from the same period last year, registering the second consecutive quarter of shipment growth after six quarters of decline. Low inventory from the first half of 2013, and the introduction of new models with Intel's Haswell and new form factors brought the sell-in shipment up compared with a year ago.

.PC shipments in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) totalled 22.4 million units in the third quarter of 2013, a 13.7% decline from the same period last year. The region suffered its sixth consecutive quarter of declining PC shipments. All areas of the region - Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa — showed a shipment decline.

PC ship


“PC shipments across all of Eastern Europe remained weak due to the ongoing popularity of tablets and some weakening of the Russian rouble versus the euro and US dollar, which led to a PC price increase,” said Kitagawa.

“The Asia Pacific region was hampered by the currency volatilities, especially in India and Indonesia, where currencies plunged to record lows. Vendors were also mindful of Windows 8.1, new models based on Intel's Bay Trail that will start shipping the following quarter. Therefore, they were careful in managing inventory.”


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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.


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