PC market flat in Q2: Tablets up; offset by desktop, notebook losses

The figures suggest a gloomy desktop and notebook outlook for the December holiday quarter: tablets will outsell notebooks by the end of this year.

The PC market remained flat in the second quarter, according to the estimates from research firm Canalys, which reported its latest figures on Tuesday.

Despite a 43 percent increase in tablet shipments, these gains are offset by poorly performing traditional desktops and notebook sales, which fell by more than 7 percent and 14 percent respectively.

So much so, the firm says, by the fourth quarter — where December holiday sales of electronics are typically higher — tablets will outsell notebooks, relegating the portable devices to a relic of the recent past.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 18.04.43
Image: Canalys

The figures show that in the European, Middle Eastern and African markets, PC shipments fell by 3 percent year-over-year in the second quarter. Western Europe continues to pose difficulties for PC makers, which have seen annual declines of 10 percent in countries like the U.K., France, and Germany.

Meanwhile, the Asia Pacific region saw only a 0.5 percent decline, suggesting a healthier, albeit still troubled market. A slump in shipments in China saw the brunt of the region's troubles, which accounts for nearly half of the region's shipments. 

Read this

Slower tablet market hints at fatigue, more traditional upgrade cycle

The larger question here is whether developed markets will see tablet fatigue. Once everyone has a tablet -- and you can argue they do -- the upgrade cycle shifts.

Read More

A flat PC market quarter-over-quarter is of course better than a decline, at least for PC manufacturers, chip, component, and peripheral makers, considering the PC market has suffered considerably as of late as post-PC devices cannibalize traditional desktop and notebook sales. 

Apple remained the leader in the second quarter share tables with 18.6 million shipments, behind Lenovo in second place at 13 percent share with 14.1 million shipments, but this was due mostly in part to its strong iPad sales. 

Canalys defines a PC as a desktop machine, a notebook, or a tablet, including Android devices and iPads. This naturally skews the outcome of the figures compared to other research firms, where many delineate between post-PC devices, such as tablets, and traditional keyboard-based devices.

Apple's divisional breakdown shows its desktop and notebook shipments accounted for 20 percent of its total shipments. Both iPads and Macs were down from the second to the third quarter, according to Apple's latest quarterly earnings  reported in July.

While this alone isn't unusual for the mid-year months which often lead to slower sales, Canalys said: "With tablet vendors attacking Apple on price it must bring fresh innovation to future generations of its iPad range if it is to maintain the lead it has built in the PC market."

Lenovo as the second front-runner in the PC space, which last October finally took the crown from HP in the strictly PC-only space, is faring well. It saw a strong annual growth of 34 percent in the European, Middle Eastern and African markets, a 28 percent increase in the U.S. market, and 93 percent in Latin America. 

"Lenovo is on an upward curve with its tablets, expanding in mainland China and Latin America, where there is little competition from the likes of Google or Amazon," said Canalys analyst James Wang in prepared remarks.

Further in, HP in third place dipped in tablet sales, as did Dell in fifth place. Only Samsung in fourth place managed to show a decent amount of growth year over year, growing by more than 100 percent, from 4.8 percent market share in the second quarter of 2012 to 9.9 percent share in the same quarter a year later.

On Monday, IDC's latest research showed that even  the tablet market is beginning to slow , suggesting the market was showing symptoms of tablet fatigue. ZDNet's Larry Dignan  has more on this