PC market contracts: Business upgrade cycle weakens, consumers wary

Rising oil and commodity prices and disruptions in Japan due to earthquakes and the tsunami put the brakes on corporate upgrades.

PC shipments fell 3.2 percent in the first quarter amid tepid business spending due to worries about increasing costs and weak consumer demand, according to IDC.

IDC had been expecting a 1.5 percent gain in shipments. That projection reflected caution, but rising oil and commodity prices and disruptions in Japan due to earthquakes and the tsunami put the brakes on corporate upgrades.

In other words, businesses focused on necessary replacements, but weren't buying more. Consumers couldn't find a reason to buy. IDC noted:

Long-term success will depend on hardware manufacturers being able to articulate a message that is beyond simple hardware specifications. 'Good-enough computing' has become a firm reality, exemplified first by Mini Notebooks and now Media Tablets. Macroeconomic forces can explain some of the ebb and flow of the PC business, but the real question PC vendors have to think hard about is how to enable a compelling user experience that can justify spending on the added horsepower.

According to IDC's scorecard, Lenovo shined. The rest of the field---aside from Toshiba---stumbled.

In the U.S., Apple and Toshiba had impressive shipment gains. Acer was pummeled.

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