APAC PC shipments fall, a first in decade

The PC market in fourth quarter of 2008 saw a year-on-year decline, reminiscent of the post-1997 Asian financial crisis period, new figures from IDC indicate.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

The PC industry in the Asia-Pacific region has recorded its first year-on-year decline since the days of the Asian financial crisis a decade ago, new statistics from IDC reveal.

The region's desktop and notebook shipments in the fourth quarter of 2008 decreased 5 percent year-on-year, and down 14 percent over the third quarter to 17.2 million units, the research analyst said in a statement released Monday. Globally, PC shipments in the fourth quarter was nearly zero, IDC reported last week.

Overall, the Asia-Pacific PC market grew 9 percent in 2008, compared to 22 percent in 2007--a scenario IDC said was similar to that of 2001. The all-time low of 0 percent was registered in 1998.

A number of countries in the region, however, still posted double-digit growth in 2008. But key markets including China and India slowed considerably during the final quarter.

Bryan Ma, IDC's director of personal systems research in the Asia-Pacific region, noted that more dismal than expected PC market momentum from markets such as China and India, made the fourth quarter's performance "quite a jaw-dropper". China's domestic demand last quarter dimmed, causing the regional market to perform 13 percent below forecasts. Economic and channel issues in India also took their toll, IDC reported.

Ma added that going forward, the region's public sector is likely to provide some "pockets of shelter" in PC spend, in what would otherwise be a gloomy 2009.

In Singapore, spending in the private sector was slow during the fourth quarter of 2008, but the public sector helped to bolster the market. According to Reuben Tan, IDC's senior manager of personal systems research in the Asia-Pacific region, consumer spending during the quarter also held up, as evident from the annual Sitex show. Spending during the November 2008 event surpassed that of 2007's.

Tan added: "We believe that the Singapore PC market will continue to slow down and will only see more activities after the Chinese New Year holidays, especially with fresh student notebook-buying programs in March."

Hong Kong, on the other hand, came in just short of forecasts as a result of "inventory issues", noted Kathy Sin, research manager of Asia-Pacific personal systems research at IDC. The overall PC market posted a 17-percent growth in 2008, while fourth-quarter shipments of mini-notebooks continued to grow sequentially.

However, as the Hong Kong market is closely tied to the global economy, "risks still loom overhead", she added.

Lenovo keeps lead
Chinese PC vendor Lenovo maintained its position as the top brand in the region for 2008, with a full-year market share of 18.3 percent. According to IDC, the company registered a 9.7 percent year-on-year unit growth last year.

In second place was Hewlett-Packard with a share of 14.1 percent. Third-placed Dell and Acer, at No. 4, were the two fastest growing brands in terms of units. Dell scored a 35.1 percent growth in unit shipments last year, over 2007. Acer posted a 34.5 percent year-on-year unit growth.

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