In shift, Q2 PC sales up 2.4%; tablets beginning to disrupt?

PC shipments see an unexpected rise in Q2 and the industry as a whole deviates from historical trends. Economic uncertainty, the rise of tablets, or both? Here are the numbers.

Global shipments of PCs during the second quarter of 2011 were up 2.4 percent, deviating from previous historical trends and prompting the question: are tablets beginning to disrupt the market?

Disruption was certainly the theme in a new research report from consulting firm Jon Peddie, where the report's author admits that Q2 shipments "did not behave according to past years with regard to seasonality," defining 2011 as a whole as "an anomalous year" thanks to various recovery strategies after the 2008-09 economic downtown.

Or is it?

Here's a look at the highlights for Q2 2011:

  • Total PC shipments increased 6.3 percent, significantly above the 10-year average of 3.5%, prompting inventory concerns.
  • More than 84 million PCs shipped worldwide in 2Q11, an increase of 2.4% compared to 1Q11.
  • In the same period, graphics saw a 6.3 percent increase. The upswing "could be an inventory buildup and have a negative impact on Q3 or Q4."
  • Year over year, Intel saw market share growth (14.7%), AMD dropped 14.2% and Nvidia slipped 18.4%. Similar trends were seen quarter over quarter.
  • Intel saw a 21 percent average growth in Desktops and Notebooks, thanks to its Embedded Processor Graphics CPU. EPG saw 41% growth quarter over quarter.
  • Meanwhile, AMD's HPU saw 80% growth quarter to quarter for desktops and notebooks.
  • IPads and Android tablets "have probably cannibalized" some netbook sales.

Is the inventory buildup due to early back-to-school preparation, or channel stuffing? Peddie wasn't sure, but admitted otherwise that "tablets have changed the nature of the PC market" -- that is to say, we're not sure if they're actually eating into sales, but they may be affecting seasonal ups and downs.

(At least, that's how I'm reading this. But I'm no analyst!)

To wit:

Since the crash of 2009, combined with the introduction and influence of ARM-based Tablets, the PC market has deviated from historical trends. Until the segment for Tablets is clearly defined the fluctuations in the market data is likely to continue. The disruptions probably won’t settle down for a while as Tablets find their place in the market and agreement can be reached on to include them in the PC market analysis, or to not include them.

Another question: is the usual PC cycle finally seeing measurable influence from the mobile sector? Hard to say, but it's clear that the entire industry continues to be in flux -- and that the numbers (and the methodologies) may require deeper scrutiny.