PC shipments flat-lined after two years of decline, Gartner says

Summary:UPDATED: IDC figures aren't quite as hopeful as Gartner's latest pulse check on the PC industry.

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Tablet shipments might finally be starting to dip for the first time ever, but the PC industry at large got a slightly better piece of news on Wednesday.

Worldwide PC shipments experienced flat levels of growth during the second quarter of 2014, according to the latest figures from Gartner.

That might not seem like great news, but it's certainly much more of a welcome, positive spin after two years of continued decline.

Looking closer, PC shipments totaled 75.8 million units worldwide in Q2, up 0.1 percent year-over-year.

Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa still classified this piece of data in the report as "mixed results," breaking it down to continued declines in emerging markets offset by recovery in developed markets.

In the United States alone, PC shipments totaled 15.9 million units in the second quarter of 2014, a 7.4 percent increase annually.

Kitagawa also hinted that there are no guarantees of a comeback on the horizon.

The PC industry in emerging markets has been impacted by the allure of low-cost tablets. These low-cost tablets continue to take spending from new PC units, meaning that it will take more time for PC sales to stabilize in emerging markets.

There weren't any major movements on the vendor scoreboard, although Lenovo did grow its lead by more than three points year-over-year to hold 19.2 percent of the global PC market share.

The Chinese PC maker shipped more than 14.5 million units during the quarter, once again trailed by Hewlett-Packard with more than 13.4 million units.

But Gartner had more praise reserved for HP,  highlighting 21 percent shipment growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to secure the top spot in that region. Analysts also noted HP achieved its fastest global PC shipment increase in the last four years, specifically since the second quarter of 2010.

UPDATE: Market intelligence firm IDC followed up with its latest pulse check on the global PC industry, and while there is some room for growth, the results aren't as optimistic.

IDC analysts found that PC shipments totaled 74.4 million units worldwide during the second quarter, a drop of 1.7 percent.

However, that is remarkably better than the IDC's previous forecast calling for a decline of 7.1 percent. Analysts attributed the much closer call to more-than-expected desktop shipments as well as fervor around lower-priced laptops, such as Chromebooks.

Domestically, shipments in the U.S. grew by 6.9 percent year-over-year.

IDC results also apparently concurred with Gartner as far as developed vs. emerging markets goes. IDC observed the strongest growth in North America and Europe but more declines in emerging markets due to a combination of "weaker economies and political issues."

Nevertheless, Loren Loverde, vice president of Worldwide PC Trackers coverage at IDC, posited in the report that the uptick in developed markets is a positive sign -- albeit with a few caveats and warnings.

However, an important part of this strength is driven by the rebound from weaker demand last year and to potentially short-term replacement activity. We can look for some recovery in emerging regions going forward, but it may coincide with slower growth in mature regions. We do not see the recent gains as a motive to raise the long-term outlook although 2014 growth could get closer to flat, rather than the May projection of -6%.

The IDC also shared Gartner's enthusiasm for Hewlett-Packard's growth rates in the United States and EMEA markets, further touting its best quarter since 2010.

Chart via Gartner

Topics: Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, PCs, Tech Industry

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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