Tablet shipments waning, but still outpace laptops: Canalys

Once again, the "death" of Windows XP might actually be breathing new life into the flailing PC market.


A bit of good news for the PC industry: Shipments were actually up worldwide during the first quarter, according to the latest report from Canalys.

According to the market research firm, approximately 123.7 million PCs shipped worldwide during the first quarter of 2014, up five percent year-over-year. That estimate includes tablets as well as laptops and desktops.

The potential surprise to industry followers is that the tablet sector might be showing the first signs of slowing down given that growth stilted to 21 percent annually.

Canalys senior writer Tim Coulling honed in on Apple in the report, observing the "fall in iPad shipments in Q1 was the sharpest ever."

Nevertheless, there is no need to overreact -- at least on the part of tablet makers and lovers -- being that tablets still accounted for 41 percent of the overall PC market compared to just 38 percent nabbed by notebooks.

And as far as Apple goes, Coulling also didn't seem worried for the iPad maker.

Apple took action during the quarter to run down its iPad inventory, a smart move as tablet stock in the channel rose due to strong seasonal shipments in the previous quarter. Longer term, we do not believe Apple’s Q1 performance points to a decline in the tablet category, despite growing pressure from larger-screen smart phones. Consumers, and increasingly businesses, are continuing to adapt, with tablets acting as disruptors and finding their place as desktop and notebook replacements. Apple’s ecosystem and the recent launch of Office for iPad should ensure it is well placed to remain a leader for some time.

As for the rest of the world's top PC vendors, Lenovo's market share increase by two points to 12 percent while Samsung slipped to fourth place just behind Hewlett-Packard.

The decline for laptops continues to be a spiraling, but still complex, story. Canalys researchers reflected on the dwindling shipments by pointing toward poor commercial sales in Western Europe and North America. Even China, now the world's second largest PC market, also exhibited declines.

On the flip side, they also offered a glimmer of hope. Once again, the "death" of Windows XP might actually be breathing new life into the flailing PC market.

Analysts explained, "Commercial shipments the world over have been lifted by the end of life of Windows XP, a trend that also influenced desktops, helping shipments to remain flat year on year."

Chart via Canalys