If there was any doubt about the fact that the PC market is in trouble, two different sets of figures released in recent days from IDC and Gartner should clear up any confusion. The PC market is still falling, although for those clutching at straws, the fact that the decline has been less over the last quarter than in recent quarter might provide some relief.
The only difference between the two sets of figures is the rate of decline. According to IDC (International Data Corporation) the number of shipments over the last quarter was down 11.4% on the same quarter last year -- although it does concede that this was slightly better than was expected.
According to Gartner the decline was slightly less pronounced than the figures from IDC suggest. Gartner says that PC shipments dropped to 76 million units over the quarter, a decline of 10.9% on the same period last year, marking the 5th consecutive period that there has been a drop and the longest sustained decline since Gartner started following the figures.
Whatever way you look at it, or whichever set of figures you decide to take, the market declined by around 11% in the last quarter.
One other point that both agree on is the pecking order in terms of sales. There are a number regional variations if you start looking at geographies, but globally speaking, the pecking order is Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer and ASUS.
If you just take the US on its own, Apple makes it in at third place out of the top five, booting Asus to the sidelines.
IDC Market Figures
For IDC the figures reflect a market that is still trying to come to terms with the transition to touchscreen devices that are running on Windows 8 as well as difficulties justifying ultraboolk prices in the face of competition from tablets and other devices.
While IDC, as a research organization, has no real place being pessimistic or optimistic about figures, its suggestion that the problem may lie with PC vendors cutting back on orders has all the hallmarks of straw-clutching, even if it is very cautious in doing so.
… A silver lining is that a number of vendors and regions seemed to be focused on inventory reduction during the second quarter, which could reflect planned launches of new models as well as lower inventory going into the second half of the year …,” the research says.
So maybe vendors are waiting for new models and maybe not. There is also a sting here. IDC says the decline in orders over the quarter could reflect caution among vendors as they take note of the challenging market they are operating in.
In other words, 5 quarters of declining shipments is not going to encourage sellers to open up the order books and bring in new stock.
There are positives though, not least of which is that both Dell and HP, which have been struggling in previous quarters have started to record growth, indicating perhaps that buying spree may be on the way.
Market leader Lenovo also grew faster than the market -- and faster than HP or Dell -- even if growth slipped below 0% to 1.4% on previous quarters.
However, Lenovo is a particular case and with 50% of its shipments bound for China, recent economic uncertainty there could explain this.
Regionally the US has shown signs of improvements with a decline in figures over the last quarter of just 1.9 percent. This was facilitated by a wider selections of Windows 8 models from top vendors as well as migration from Windows XP to Windows 7.
In the US, Dell managed to climb above 3.8 million units for the first time since 2011, while HP stayed on top generally followed the market as it grew and decline.
Gartner’s PC Figures
Gartner’s figures show much of the same thing. The Asia/Pacific region shows five consecutive quarters of the shipment decline, while the EMEA (European, Middle East, and Asia) markets register two consecutive quarters of double digit decline.
We are seeing the PC market reduction directly tied to the shrinking installed base of PCs, as inexpensive tablets displace the low-end machines used primarily for consumption in mature and developed markets,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.
More significantly for the future she added:
… In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC. This is also accounting for the collapse of the mini notebook market.”
She also pours cold water on any notion that the PC market is in decline because of Windows 8. She points out that the emergence of Windows 8 does not explain the sustained decline in PC shipments, nor does it explain Apple’s market performance.
Outside of the US shipments were weak in Europe as expected, a result no doubt of the ongoing economic problems there, while they also remained low in the Middle East and Africa as cheap tablet and smartphones become increasingly attractive. These figures are only preliminary, Gartner says, but any significant different is unlikely. More when these figures are released.
Title image courtesy of Crisferra (Shutterstock)