PC shipment worldwide slows as demand softens

U.S. market slows in the third quarter due to weaker demand and introduction of iPad, while Asia continues strong growth at 10 percent with China maintaining largest demand, according to preliminary findings from Gartner.
Written by Tyler Thia, Contributor

Worldwide PC shipments surpassed 88.3 million units in the third quarter this year, growing 7.6 percent over the same period in 2009, according to preliminary results from Gartner.

The figures, however, were below the research firm's earlier forecast of 12.7 percent. The Asia-Pacific region fared better, with shipments growing 10.5 percent over the third quarter of last year hitting 29.7 million units, the research firm said in a report Thursday. The growth was close to Gartner's earlier forecast of 10.1 percent.

Mobile PC demand in the consumer segment continued to grow unabated in the emerging markets as mainstream notebooks remained appealing to first-time PC buyers as well as those substituting notebooks for desktops.

Overall, desktop PCs grew 3.2 percent across the Asia-Pacific region while mobile PC unit shipment grew 19.9 percent over last year.

PC shipments in China held steady, accounting for 62 percent of all PCs shipped in the region, 11.3 percent higher than third-quarter 2009.

PC shipments in Japan surpassed 3.6 million units, clocking a 14.1 percent increase over last year. Large demand in the Japanese enterprise and government sectors drove PC sales in the quarter. In the country's consumer market, demand for replacement primary PCs--both desktop and large-size mobile PCs--continued to grow since the beginning of 2010.

Vendor showing worldwide, Asia
Gartner's study also pointed to Hewlett-Packard as the preferred brand of PCs for consumers worldwide, where the vendor shipped 15.4 million units and accounted for 17.5 percent share of the market in the third quarter.

But while the U.S. vendor remained in the top position globally, its numbers dropped 0.5 percent over the same period last year. In the Asia-Pacific region, the decline was steeper at 20 percent.

Acer ranked second in the global vendor standing, although it also experienced an overall shipment decline of 1.7 percent in the third quarter.

Globally, Dell ranked in third and benefited from the professional PC market refresh. While its North America business showed disappointing results, the vendor showed solid growth across other regions, Gartner said.

Lenovo and Asus came in fourth and fifth, respectively, to round up the top five PC vendors worldwide.

Lenovo showed the strongest growth among the top five globally, registering 33 percent growth in the third quarter. The enterprise PC market helped boost the Chinese PC maker's growth in the U.S. and Europe, Middle East and Africa, according to Gartner.

"The major growth inhibitor in the third quarter of 2010 was softness in consumer PC demand in the U.S. and Western Europe," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in the report. "The third quarter historically is a strong consumer quarter, led by back-to-school sales in those regions."

"Consumer mobile PC demand, driven by low-priced notebooks including mini-notebooks slowed after very strong growth the past two years," she said.

Kitagawa added that media hype surrounding tablets such as the Apple iPad also affected consumer notebook growth by delaying some PC purchases, especially in the U.S. consumer market.

"Media tablets don't replace primary PCs, but they affect PC purchases in many ways," the analyst said. "At this stage, hype around media tablets has led consumers and the channels to take a 'wait-and-see' approach to buying a new device."

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