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

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.


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

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  • MS, chuck your CEO and revise your strategy

    MS needs to go back to its roots, and shore up the business market, and attack the consumer market from the vantage point of the business market, where it has strength, and its competitors cannot touch. MS needs to get rid of Nadella. His ideas are too bizarre and destabilizing for the MS ecosystem. Get someone to rebuild the Windows ecosystem, and stop all this cross platform nonsense and the utilization of Android, which only serves to undermine the ecosystem.

    MS needs to focus on getting the Windows 8 software ecosystem up and running on solid economic footing. MS can remain the sole hoster of Windows 8 apps, but it essentially needs to allow Windows 8 apps to be able sold online as freely as Windows desktop apps on Amazon, Cnet.com, etc., so that Windows 8 apps can fetch the best prices possible. Also I believe Windows 7 should be updated to support Windows 8 / RT apps directly, and that there should be support for users to access Windows 8 from any platform via virtualization. Windows 8 / RT apps need as much chance as possible to flourish.

    MS needs to go back to the days of leveraging Windows to get into new markets. Windows is no longer a monopoly, so MS should leverage its assets until it turns blue. MS should leverage every asset it has to take over the enterprise with Windows Phone, and radiate outwards from there to gain better traction in the consumer market. The business market is relatively lucrative, so finding support from developers shouldn't be difficult. Also raise the price of the Windows Phone license to what it was before. If you lose hardware partners, so what? MS should be all about creating value around Windows Phone, not sacrificing value for market share. The above should allow Windows Phone to have the richest ecosystem of apps, whose value should become increasingly appealing to users in the consumer market.

    There are a million ways MS can innovate. It doesn't have to all be about the cloud. Develop the modular PC concept called Christine by Razer, to revitalize the hardware market. Adopt protocols so that PCs can have modules added trivially to them, and that the modules are easily accessible to developers via rich, easy-to-use APIs. Move heaven and earth to get the WinRT / Windows 8 app ecosystem working, so as to revitalize large screen PCs, making them touch based and immersive. There should be a task force whose only concern is to ensure that the WinRT / Windows 8 app ecosystem makes money for its partners, and they should tweak things until the platform takes off economically.

    It is insane for a MS CEO to say to that the path to economic prosperity, is to gut the value of its ecosystem, by undifferentiating its platforms into irrelevance, and stabbing its partners in the back. MS, you desperately need a new CEO.
    P. Douglas
    • The importance of the exclusivity of apps

      One thing I want to point out, is that it is important that MS innovate from a vantage point, its competitors find it difficult to touch. E.g. when Nokia attacked the low end of the smartphone market, Android competitors were able to respond quickly, to counter MS' move. If MS focuses on capturing the smartphone business market, and do the type of hardware innovation I indicated, its competitors would find it very difficult to counter. I also want to point out, that the reason MS can find relief in the business market, is because the company spent decades shoring it up with exclusive software and services. It is vital that MS turn away from this nonsense of opening up its ecosystem to rivals, because they are simply going to run roughshod over the enterprise market, the way they are doing in the consumer market. MS has to return to the old way of thinking of exclusive apps and services. It makes no sense that MS abandon the strategy which made them great, for one that made them weak - particularly in the consumer market. Having an open ecosystem may be great if you are running an association, standards body, etc., but it is fatal if you are a platforms company, that a whole ecosystem of partners and customers depend on.
      P. Douglas
    • Hmmm

      Wondering if you know that by definition "PCs" is not just Windows but Linux, Macs and any other desktop/laptop OS out there.

      We can see your anti-Microsoft bias showing....
  • simple

    all the "idiot surfer's" have gone to tablets so no need for computers its only people who REALLY use desktops that are now buying
    The BarnOwl
  • Size matters...

    Anything less than 27 inches screen size is useless for doing any work, the thought of using a pad or phone fills me with horror. I can't be the only one amongst the billions of potential customers who still want, need and desire a desktop machine!
    dumb blonde
    • Sheesh

      Whatever did you do back when 15-inch CRT's were the standard? Or was that before your time? :)

      Having said that, for some things, yeah, a powerful, repairable and upgrade-friendly desktop with a large display and a full-sized QWERTY keyboard is still preferable.

      I make do with a 20-inch screen because it's what fits comfortably into my old reliable computer desk, and it feels adequate, but I've managed on a 10-inch netbook for months at a time when my desktop went kerblooey and a replacement was difficult to acquire. Finally tracked down all the necessary cords and adapters so if it ever happens again I can at least hook the thing up to my full-size monitor, keyboard and mouse.
  • So, the PC market is NOT as weak as previously predicted, and IDC and

    Gartner are trying to come up with excuses as to why they were off in their predictions.

    Heck, they even mentioned Chromebooks as being one of the reasons for the "rebound" of PC sales, yet, Chromebooks aren't really selling and they're hardly noticeable when it comes to internet traffic (irony there, since they're supposed to mostly work via the internet).

    The best thing to do with predictions from Gartner and IDC, is to ignore them altogether, and just work from figures that tell the real story, and the real story can only be found in numbers of actual sales, not from predictions.
  • Hmmmm

    Wasn't it recently that another one of these so-called "research" companies said that there was actually a rebound in PC sales as tablets have showed down.