PC sales took another hit in the second quarter of 2013, with global sales falling to 76 million units, or being slashed 10.9 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Around the world, PC sales have been nosediving for the past few years, with marked declines in both the Asia and Pacific PC market, as well as the EMEA PC market, according to a report from research firm Gartner Inc.
Although Gartner did not provide any numbers for Canada, in the U.S. market, PC shipments stood at 15 million units in the second quarter of 2013, a 1.4 per cent drop from the same period in 2012.
This is the fifth quarter in a row that PCs have seen a decline in sales, the longest run of slipping sales in the PC market’s history – something that’s directly tied to tablets giving PCs a run for their money, said Mikako Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner.
“The position of these is changing because this is no longer the only device that you can use, but one of the devices you can use. Therefore, more people are buying tablets,” she said, adding she expects the whole PC market will continue to decline over the next couple of years. For example, consumers may be using laptops for now, but they may soon decide to make the switch to tablets.
Tablets provide the convenience factor of a smaller-sized, portable device, and they may also be easier to use. The lower price point is also very attractive, yet consumers’ discretionary income is often squeezed between their phones, tablets, and accompanying data plans – making it less likely they’ll regularly upgrade to new PCs, she added.
While some might pinpoint Windows 8 as the reason for PCs’ miserable sales, she said she doubts that has much impact on PCs’ performance. By the same token, the release of Windows 8.1 isn’t likely to be a game-changer either.
“Windows 8 is a very easy target for a lot of people to blame for this market,” she said. “But a new operating system release is not usually the motivation for buying a PC.”
Still, that doesn’t mean PC sales are necessarily dead, cautioned Kitagawa. Instead, people should see declining PC shipments as a reflection of a changing market structure, she said. There will always be PC buyers who need one desktop for home use, or who will need to buy one if their older model has become too broken down or outdated.
As for the top PC manufacturers, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo are still vying for the top spot worldwide. This quarter, Gartner estimated Lenovo performed slightly better with about 16.7 per cent market share and about 12.7 million units shipped, while HP was at 16.3 per cent with 12.4 million PCs sold. Dell Inc. trailed at a distant third with about 9 million PCs shipped, giving it 11.8 per cent market share.
PC sales may actually see less of a decline in the second half of 2013, Kitagawa said. She anticipates a possible single digit decline as opposed to the double digit drop in the first two quarters of 2013.