Squeezed out by cheap Android tablets and Apple's iPad, PC sales continue to plummet

Summary:How low can they go? PC shipments continue to slide as hardware companies still grapple with the rise of tablets.

The PC market continues its downward spiral as hardware companies fail to come up with a compelling alternative to Android tablets and Apple's iPad .

PC shipments in Western Europe totalled 11.9 million units in the third quarter of 2013, a decline of 12.8 percent from the same period in 2012, according to calculations by Gartner. Back in the third quarter of 2009, PC shipments stood at 16.7 million units.

"The PC market in Western Europe continued to shrink, declining faster than expected," Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement.

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The market has now fallen so far that Apple — once considered to be high-end niche player — is now among the top five PC vendors in Europe, according to the analysts firm's numbers.

Gartner said the transition from PCs to tablets continued to reduce PC sales, while some consumers would have been waiting for hardware featuring Haswell and Bay Trail processors, and may have delayed purchases to subequent purchases.

All types of PCs measured by Gartner declined: mobile and desktop PC shipments declined by 14.5 percent and 9.8 percent year-on-year, respectively. PC shipments to business fell by 8.3 percent, while the consumer PC market dropped by 17.1 percent.

Gartner's data covers desk-based PCs, mobile PCs and x86 tablets equipped with Windows 8 but excludes other tablets and Chromebooks.

Across Western Europe HP remained the number one PC vendor by shipments, while Lenovo moved up to number two, its double-digit growth in the third quarter driven by strong sales of mobile PCs in the consumer and small and mid-size business segments, at the expense of Acer and Samsung. Acer suffered a double-digit shipment decline as a result of the continued shift from consumer PCs to tablets and hybrid form factors.

Escherich said PC manufacturers are shifting their investment from consumer PCs to tablets and hybrid form factors — but face the bind of having to protect their current PC market positions while competing in an aggressive and lower cost new market.

"Without a solid position in the professional PC market, they will find it challenging to defend their positions and invest in non-PC devices," she said.

And while new hybrid PC and tablet might get consumers buying again, spending is likely to be limited as these devices will be competing against cheap Android tablets.

Western Europe: PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 3Q13 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor 3Q 2013 shipments 3Q 2013 market share 3Q12 shipments 3Q12 market share Growth
HP 2,618

22.1

2,622

19.3

-0.2

Lenovo

 1,471

12.4

1,265

9.3

16.3

Acer

 1,382

11.7

1,920

14.1

-28.0

Dell

 1,218

10.3

1,204

8.9

1.1

Apple 996

8.4

1,028

7.6

-3.1

Others

 4,174

35.1

5,556

40.8

-24.8

Total

 11,859

 100.0

13,595

 100.0

-12.8

Source: Gartner, November 2013

Decline in PC shipment was greater in the UK than in France and Germany: PC shipments in the UK reached 2.3 million units in the third quarter of 2013, a decrease of 21.2 per cent from the same period in 2012.

The UK PC market has now declined for 11 out of the past 12 quarters. While the top five vendors' shipments in the UK declined by 3.5 percent, the other PC vendors' shipments declined by more than 40 percent.

The consumer PC market in the UK fell by 13.6 percent, while the professional PC market declined by 28.1 percent. The mobile PC market accounted for 62 per cent of total PC shipments in the UK, with volumes decreasing by 23.7 percent year-on-year. Desktop PC shipments declined by 16.9 per cent.

Further reading

Topics: PCs, Consumerization, EU, Hardware, Tablets, Tech Industry, United Kingdom, Windows 8

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic, and has been writing about technology, business and culture for more than a decade. Previously he was the editor of silicon.com.

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