Q4 decline in PC shipments worse than expected – IDC

11 Jan 2013

The decline in shipments of PCs in the fourth quarter was worse than expected, IDC has confirmed. Some 89.8m personal computers were shipped during the quarter, down almost 7pc and worse than the 4.4pc originally forecast.

This marks the first time in more than five years that the PC market has seen a year-on-year decline during the usually lucrative Christmas sales season.

The declines occurred despite Microsoft’s launch of its latest operating system Windows 8 and were attributed to ongoing demand for tablet computers and smartphones.

The “soft” quarter was not helped by lukewarm sales and marketing efforts by the computer companies and retailers.

Potential market reset suggested

“Although the third quarter was focused on the clearing of Windows 7 inventory, preliminary research indicates the clearance did not significantly boost the uptake of Windows 8 systems in Q4,” said Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

“Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience.

“As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables, such as ultrabook pricing, continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013,” Chou said.

In the US, a shortage of touchscreen PCs allowed consumers to delay their buying decisions while in Europe, despite the early arrival of ultra-slim PCs, European buyers shunned PCs in favour of attractively priced tablets and smartphones, particularly during the end-of-year Christmas season.

HP maintained its position as the leading PC vendor, shipping 15m units and capturing 16.7pc of the market, followed by Lenovo, with 14m units shipped and 15.7pc marketshare. Dell was in third place with just over 10pc marketshare and 9.4m PCs shipped.

“As anticipated, the US market had a rough ending, dropping 4.5pc in the fourth quarter and contributing to a decline of 7pc for the full year 2012,” said David Daoud, research director, IDC US Quarterly PC Tracker.

“Consumers expected all sorts of cool PCs with tablet and touch capabilities. Instead, they mostly saw traditional PCs that feature a new OS (Windows 8) optimised for touch and tablet with applications and hardware that are not yet able to fully utilise these capabilities.

“Despite a generally weak performance, some leading brands managed do to well relative to the market. HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Samsung were among the top performers, taking advantage of some consumer interest in Windows 8, and a push to build up their presence ahead of 2013,” Daoud said.


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