US dollar to blame for global PC shipment decline: Gartner

For the third quarter of 2015 Gartner says worldwide PC shipments have fallen 7.7 percent to 73.7 million, attributing the purchase lull in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Japan, and Latin America to the sharp appreciation of the US dollar.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Worldwide PC shipments were down 7.7 percent to 73.7 million in the third quarter of this year, analyst firm Gartner has said.

In its preliminary results, Gartner has identified a strong US dollar as a reason for a decline in PC shipments, with impacted regions including Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Japan, and Latin America.

"These impacted regions posted double-digit declines in the third quarter," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner said.

"The global PC market has experienced price increases of around 10 percent throughout the year, due to the sharp appreciation of the US dollar against local currencies. In the third quarter of 2015, this continued to be a major cause for weaker demand in those regions."

Kitagawa added that Asia Pacific and the US were more stable regions.

Despite the launch of Windows 10 in the third quarter, Gartner found that desktop PCs continued to show weakness with a "high-single-digit decline", while the segment that combines notebook PCs and premium ultramobiles -- such as the MacBook Air and Microsoft Surface Pro -- recorded a "low-single-digit decline".

"[Windows 10] had a minimal impact on shipments in the quarter," Gartner analysts said. "The focus of the Windows launch in the quarter was to upgrade to Windows 10 on existing PCs, rather than ship on new PCs; the Windows 10 rollout will ramp up in 4Q15 holiday sales."

Kitagawa offered advice to PC manufacturers waiting for the Windows 10 purchasing to begin, saying they should adjust configurations for 2016 without the impact of price hikes seen in 2015, which will lead into more stable market conditions in the upcoming year.

"Soft recovery is expected to start in 4Q15, as Windows 10 product refreshes start to appear," she said.

Gartner added that it is not all doom and gloom for the PC market; as part of its 2015 personal technology survey, 50 percent of consumers expressed intention to purchase a PC in the next 12 months, with 21 percent looking at a tablet purchase.

Lenovo took pole position, boasting 20.3 percent of the market share in the third quarter, shipping 14,995 PC units globally. Hewlett-Packard was second, with 18.5 percent market share; Dell held 13.8 percent; followed by Apple, Acer, and Asus holding approximately 7 percent each; with "others" claiming a large 25.3 percent share.

Lenovo's total shipment number declined year-over-year, but its market share climbed one percent.

Asia Pacific PC shipments totalled 26.3 million units in Q3, down 1.7 percent year-on-year; mobile shipments in the region, however, grew 2.2 percent for the period.

Earlier this year, Gartner suggested that the global PC market was expected to experience a 2.4 percent decline from $193 billion in 2014 to $178 billion in 2015.

"The currency squeeze is forcing PC vendors to increase their prices in order to remain profitable and, as result, it is suppressing purchases," Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal said.

"We expect businesses will delay purchases of new PCs, and consumers will delay or 'de-feature' their purchases. However, this reduction in purchasing is not a downturn; it is a reshaping of the market driven by currency."

In the first quarter of the year, Gartner claimed approximately 71.7 million PC units were shipped worldwide, which was down 5.2 percent from the same time last year; whilst IDC analysts said PC shipments for the first quarter experienced a 69 million unit decline, which was the lowest recorded volume since the first quarter of 2009.

Compared to Gartner, IDC defines the PC category a bit more broadly, covering desktops, laptops, Chromebooks, workstations, and ultra-slim notebooks -- but not handhelds, x86 servers, and tablets.

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