San Francisco: Personal-computer (PC) shipments dropped for a fifth straight quarter, the longest losing streak on record, as consumers continued to favour touch-screen tablets and smartphones for getting online.
Second-quarter global unit shipments fell 10.9% to 76 million, market researcher Gartner Inc. said on Wednesday in a statement. Sales slid from a year earlier in all regions, including a 1.4% drop in the US, Gartner said. IDC, another research firm, put the decline at 11.4%, narrower than its projected 11.7% contraction.
The extended slump adds to evidence that PC makers and suppliers are still struggling to lure back consumers that have decided they can get the Internet access and computing they need from cheaper tablets. “The industry’s aim of having every person own a PC is no longer realistic,” said Loren Loverde, an analyst at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC.
“Now we’re thinking more conservatively that it’s going to be one tablet per person and one PC per family,” he said. “Still, the smaller drop in the US helped spark some optimism that the PC market may do better than some of the most pessimistic forecasts for the year,” Loverde said.
PC sales have yet to get a bump from the October release of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 8, an upgrade to the industry’s dominant operating system that was optimized for touch screens, or new processors from Intel Corp. Such new products have traditionally acted as triggers for companies and consumers to trade in old machines. A broad industry failure to bring touch capabilities to PCs at an affordable price has held back the market, according to IDC.
Beijing-based Lenovo Group Ltd posted the narrowest global decline in shipments among the top five vendors, helping it supplant Hewlett-Packard Co. as the largest PC maker, Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner said. Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard have been trading the top spot since last year.
“In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC,” Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner, said in the statement.
Lenovo’s unit sales fell 0.6%, giving it a market share of 16.7%, compared with 14.9% in last year’s second quarter, Gartner said. Hewlett-Packard’s global shipments declined 4.8%, for 16.3% of the market, while Dell Inc. posted a 3.9% drop, leaving it with an 11.8% share.
“Balancing growth and profitability across our entire PC business is our focus going forward,” Lenovo chairman Yang Yuanqing said in an e-mailed statement.
Shipments of desktop and laptop PCs will decline 10.6% in 2013, while tablet sales will increase 67.9% Gartner estimated last month.
US shipments declined to 15 million in the second quarter. Still, unit sales gained 8.5% from the prior quarter, and the year-over-year drop was the smallest in the past seven quarters, Gartner said. IDC pegged the US decline at 1.9%, to 15.7 million units.
“The biggest news is that the US improved,” said IDC’s Loverde. “We’ve been looking for a turning point in shipments. It’s good that it wasn’t any worse.”
Dell’s worldwide decline in shipments slowed, and the company posted growth in the US and Japan, according to the Gartner report. Acer’s global sales fell 35%, while Asustek posted a 21% drop, reflecting their plans to exit the small notebook market.