As tablets peak, are consumers warming to PCs again?

9 Oct 2014

Worldwide PC sales continue to decline but not as rapidly as previously reported, says Gartner, adding consumer attention is slowly going back to PC purchases after sales of tablet devices have peaked.

Worldwide PC shipments reached 79.4 million units in the third quarter of 2014, a 0.5pc decline from the third quarter of last year.

“Growth in the mature markets was offset by a decline in shipments in emerging markets, similar to what was seen in the second quarter of 2014,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

“Positive results in Western Europe and North America can be a sign of gradual recovery for the PC industry.

“Consumers’ attention is slowly going back to PC purchases as tablet adoption peaked with mainstream consumers. The transition from PCs to tablets has faded as tablet penetration has reached the 40-50pc range.”

In contrast, weakness in the emerging market reflects the saturation in selected consumer segments where they can afford PCs.

“In the meantime, consumers who don’t have PCs will likely buy low priced tablet. This is a one of the major reasons for the slow growth in PC shipments in the emerging market,” Kitagawa said.

Lenovo consolidates its number one position and HP splits

Gartner claimed that for the first time the sum of the top five vendors’ share reached two-thirds of the worldwide PC shipments.

All top five vendors showed stronger growth compared to the industry average. Scale is one important success criteria for vendors to survive in the PC market. Some vendors have already scaled back or have withdrawn from the PC business — namely, Sony and Samsung — and Toshiba joined them in 3Q14.

Lenovo extended its position as the worldwide leader in PC shipments, as it accounted for 19.8pc of the market in the third quarter of 2014.

Lenovo did especially well in EMEA as it achieved more than 40pc growth over the third quarter last year. It also had year-over-year growth in Asia/Pacific, despite the region showing a decline overall.

In number two position HP, which earlier this week announced plans to split into two companies (HP Inc looking after PCs and printers and HP Enterprise focusing on cloud, servers and services) posted single-digit growth

Dell had another strong quarter, and the results indicate that Dell’s commitment and investment into the PC market has been consistent since it went private.

In the US market, PC shipments totaled 16.6 million units in the third quarter of 2014, a 4.2pc increase from the same period last year. This was the third quarter in a row with positive shipment growth.

“Consumers’ wallets were gradually coming back to PCs, although back to school sales season was not exceptional,” Kitagawa said.

“More availability of affordable touch-based laptops, price drops of thin and light laptops, and 2 in 1 hybrid laptops will attract consumers this holiday season.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years