PC sales volumes in the third quarter dropped to their lowest level since 2008, according to Gartner. PC shipments in the third quarter peaked at 80.3m units, down 8.6pc on last year and marking the sixth consecutive quarter of decline.
Traditionally, the third quarter – or the ‘back to school quarter’ – has been one of strong sales for the PC sector, but the arrival of tablet computer devices in school curricula around the world is taking a toll.
“Consumers’ shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.
“A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets.”
Gartner said the upcoming fourth-quarter Christmas sales season will be a key battlefield for HP and Lenovo, who have been neck-and-neck for the top global position in the PC market.
Lenovo accounted for 17.6pc of global PC shipments in the third quarter, and HP had 17.1pc of shipments, according to preliminary results. Lenovo’s overall growth was held back by weaknesses in the Chinese market.
HP recorded positive shipment growth in the third quarter for the first time since the first quarter of 2012.
Dell’s growth rate across the world averaged at 1pc while Acer shipments declined 22.6pc on last year, due to the decline of the netbook market.
Asus saw PC shipments decline 22.5pc and has switched its focus from PCs to tablets, with tablet shipments from Asus now equalling PC shipments.
The one market showing positive growth was the US, where shipments were up 3.5pc on last year.
“The positive US results could mean that seasonal strength and channel fill for new product launches in 3Q13 finally overcame the structural decline,” Kitagawa said. “Even though third-quarter shipments were compared with the artificially weak second quarter because of inventory control for the Windows 8 launch at the time, the third-quarter results imply the US market may have passed the worst declining stage, which started in 2010.
“The shrinking installed base of PCs has also passed the steepest decline phase because the structural change has progressed fairly quickly.
“Tablets will continue to impact the PC market, but the US PC market will see a more moderate decrease rather than a steep decline in the next two years,” Kitagawa said.