PC Shipments Slide as Consumers Embrace Mobile Devices

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

The market for PCs continues to struggle as falling prices in the tablet market attract more consumers, according to reports from IDC and Gartner.

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 82.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2013, a 6.9 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2013—the seventh consecutive quarter of shipment decline, according to IT research firm Gartner.

Fellow analytics firm IDC published similar findings, reporting worldwide PC shipments totaled 82.2 million units in the fourth quarter, representing a year-on-year contraction of 5.6 percent, a shade better than the company’s forecast of a 6 percent slide.

For the full year 2013, unit shipments declined 10 percent from 2012, a record drop that IDC said reflects the changes in mobility and personal computing affecting the market, dragged down particularly by the consumer market.

The Gartner report found Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo have been virtually neck-and-neck for the top global position in the PC market throughout 2013. Lenovo took the lead in the fourth quarter, as it did last quarter, accounting for 18.1 percent of global PC shipments.

Dell continued to maintain the third position and accounted for 11.8 percent of the market, while Acer and Asus's rankings, rounding out the top five, remained unchanged compared with a year ago. Both companies have more focus on tablets, Gartner noted.

In the U.S., Gartner reported PC shipments totaled 15.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2013, a 7.5 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2012. Despite a 10.3 percent decline in shipments, HP continued to be the top vendor in the United States, accounting for 26.5 percent of shipments.

IDC reported that with shipments totaling 17.1 million PCs in the period, the U.S. market contracted by 1.6 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Their report noted consumers' continued wait-and-see approach factored into delayed purchases.

However, the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 and 8 continued to drive some momentum in the enterprise sector and once again businesses fared better than consumers.

Lenovo took over the top spot in the global PC market, accounting for 16.9 percent of the market. HP moved into the second spot after experiencing shipment decline of 9.3 percent, according to Gartner.

The Gartner report also noted consumers replaced PCs only on an as-needed basis, as many new form factors had limited availability or were priced about the average versus traditional notebooks.

Importantly, tablet devices, especially those running Google’s Android operating system, were a popular holiday present and average selling prices for them continued to decline and attract consumer spending.

"Holiday sales of technology products were strong in the U.S. market, but consumer spending during the holidays did not come back to PCs as tablets were one of the hottest holiday items," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "We think that the U.S. PC market has bottomed out. A variety of new form factors, such as hybrid notebooks, drew holiday shoppers' attention, but the market size was very small at the time. Lowering the price point of thin and light products started encouraging the PC replacement and potentially some PC growth in 2014."

Originally published on www.eweek.com.