Conflicting data on global PC shipments

Shipments increased by 1% in December quarter, says Gartner report; IDC report says shipments fell 2.4%


PC sales have been under pressure for several years as consumers increasingly do more computing on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Photo: AFP
PC sales have been under pressure for several years as consumers increasingly do more computing on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: Rival technology research firms issued conflicting estimates of global personal computer shipments for the last quarter of 2014, with Gartner Inc. seeing a rise and International Data Corp. (IDC) showing a fall.

Shipments totalled 83.7 million units in the three months ended December 2014, a 1% increase from the fourth quarter of 2013, a Gartner report said.

Meanwhile, an IDC report said shipments dropped 2.4%—less than the 4.8% fall it had predicted earlier—from 82.2 million units to 80.8 million on falling demand from businesses for new machines waned.

“The PC market is quietly stabilizing,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Installed base PC displacement by tablets peaked in 2013 and the first half of 2014. Now that tablets have mostly penetrated some key markets, consumer spending is slowly shifting back to PCs,” Kitagawa said.

“Mostly, mature regions show an ongoing trend of positive growth, but emerging markets remain weak,” Kitagawa said.

IDC said some of the shipments decline it saw was offset by rising interest in Google Inc.’s Chromebooks, which are low-cost laptops running Google software, and promotions by Microsoft Corp. around its Windows 8 software and Bing search.

“People are buying PCs mainly because the one they had is three-, five-years-old and it’s getting to be less and less productive to use and therefore they refresh it and not because of other stimulants,” said Jay Chou, a senior research analyst at IDC.

“The overall trend is towards a slowdown of declining growth with mature markets in Asia-Pacific leading the recovery,” the Gartner report said. “This bottoming out of the market suggests that the installed base is stabilizing, and replacement demand is recovering.”

Lenovo Group Ltd continued to dominate the position of the worldwide leader in PC shipments, both reports agreed. According to Gartner, Lenovo had 19.4% of the market share in the December quarter followed by Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) with 18.8% and Dell Inc. with 12.7%. According to IDC, Lenovo sold 16 million PCs worldwide, adding up to a 19.9% slice of the market.

IDC added that Apple Inc. and HP are rapidly catching up. Apple’s computer shipments jumped 19% to 5.8 million, giving the Cupertino, California-based maker of Macs a 7.1% share of the market, IDC said.

HP, which is in the process of splitting off its PC and printer businesses into a stand-alone company this year, saw its shipments increase 15% in the quarter to 15.9 million, giving it a market share of 19.7% and cementing its spot as the second-biggest maker of PCs.

In contrast, smaller PC suppliers saw their shipment growth contract 20.7%, IDC said, as pricing pressure from low- cost Chromebooks and discounts by Microsoft on Windows 8.1 software hit margins.

PC sales were particularly strong in the US, climbing 13.1% to 18.1 million units in the fourth quarter from a year ago, according to Gartner. “The one big takeaway is probably very strong growth in the US market,” said Gartner’s Kitagawa.

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