Global PC shipment growth slows further

Second quarter worldwide PC sales continue to grow on back of strong showings in Asia-Pacific and Latin America but rate of growth falls below projections by IDC and Gartner.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Global PC shipments are shifting to "modest but steady" growth of 2.3 to 2.6 percent in the second quarter of 2011 after four years of strong sales on the back of weak consumer demand in certain markets, two studies showed.

Released Thursday, Gartner's report stated that more than 85.2 million PC units were sold this second quarter, registering a 2.3 percent year-on-year increase. This was a weaker-than-expected growth rate than the 6.7 percent it had forecasted earlier, it said. These findings were only preliminary, though.

Gartner's principal analyst, Mikako Kitagawa, said in the report that slow overall growth meant the "PC market is still in a period of adjustment", which started since the second half of 2010.

The consumer PC market is now shifting toward "modest but steady" growth, she added. This slowdown comes after four years of strong sales thanks to the demand for mini-notebooks and low-priced consumer notebooks.

A separate report by IDC that was released a day earlier corroborated Gartner's findings. The research firm said shipments increased 2.6 percent, which dips below its initial 2.9 percent estimate.

The global PC market's mediocre growth is down to three factors, noted IDC's research analyst Rajani Singh.

Firstly, there is an ongoing contraction in the mini-notebook market and related inventories, he said in the report. Secondly, the impact of 2010's second quarter growth rate of 12 percent was "difficult to sustain" and, lastly, demand has softened as corporate buyers focus on new IT solution such as cloud and virtualization while consumers' interest shifts to media tablets, he elaborated.

But Jay Chou, IDC senior research analyst, was optimistic that product refreshes and year-end promotions could help boost PC shipment growth in the second half of this year.

Emerging markets lead growth
Both reports also identified strong PC sales in Asia-Pacific this quarter.

IDC said shipments in the region returned to double-digit growth of just above 12 percent while Gartner's findings showed shipments in Asia-Pacific reached 30.5 million--a 9.6 percent growth over the same period last year.

That said, individual market performances were mixed with China growing 10.9 percent due to the "release of pent-up demand" for consumer PCs while India showed weaker-than-expected consumer demand, Gartner stated.

Meanwhile, PC shipments in Latin America clocked stronger growth than Asia-Pacific as it shipped 9.2 million units, which represents a 15 percent jump year-on-year.

By contrast, shipments fell by 4.2 percent in the U.S., IDC noted. Its report showed that the contraction was because of "exuberant consumption" a year ago and a "tenuous economic recovery. It did state, though, that the 17.8 million PCs shipped this quarter marked a "substantial growth" from the previous quarter.

Gartner's Kitagawa shed more light on the U.S. market, saying the hype surrounding media tablets such as the iPad has made U.S. retailers "very conservative" in placing PC orders to free up inventory space.

HP maintains lead
From a vendor perspective, Hewlett-Packard (HP) continued to take top spot in terms of PC shipment and market share over competitors such as Dell and Lenovo, which came in second and third in both research firms' findings.

According to IDC, HP shipped about 15.3 million units and took 18.1 percent of global PC market share this second quarter. Gartner's shipment figures were lower at about 4.6 million but represents 26.9 percent market share.

Where the findings differ is in the year-on-year growth rate. IDC indicated that HP had seen a 3 percent growth over 2010 but Gartner said it suffered a 1.2 percent contraction.

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