Recovering economy doesn’t buoy PC sales

While the economy is turning around, it doesn’t appear that PC shipments are turning around with it.

In fact, according to a recent report on worldwide PC shipments from analyst firm Gartner, things are as bad for PCs now as they’ve been since 2009. Gartner reports global shipments of 79.2 million in the first quarter of 2013, a decline of 11.2 per cent from the first quarter of 2012 and the lowest level since 2009. Shipments were down in every region around the world.

“In the first quarter of 2013, it was the fourth consecutive quarter that showed a drop in worldwide PC shipments,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Even emerging markets, where PC penetration is low, are not expected to be a strong growth area for PC vendors.”

One bright light, though. While Gartner notes that consumer PC sales are down sharply, the professional market is actually buying more PCs. So businesses are continuing to refresh their workstations.

“Unlike the consumer PC segment, the professional PC market, which accounts for about half of overall PC shipments, has seen growth, driven by continuing PC refreshes,” said Kitagawa. “Despite the fact that some regions already passed the peak of PC refresh, overall professional PC demand continued to grow.”

On the vendor leaderboard, HP experienced a sharp decline in shipments while Lenovo held its ground, putting the two into a virtual tie for market share. Dell, Acer and Asus followed, all experiencing shipment declines.

“Although the overall economy had some upward momentum, it did not help buoy PC growth, suggesting the economic recovery is having little impact on PC market conditions,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “Similar to other mature markets, the U.S. will see the installed base of consumer PCs decrease going forward. This is because many of these systems will not be replaced with PCs; they will be displaced by other devices, or simply retired.”

Meanwhile, rival analyst firm IDC Corp. is also tracking declining PC shipments. It pegs first quarter PC shipments at 76.3 million units, down 13.9 per cent from the same quarter one year ago. It also reported declines in every global region. IDC singled out instability among several of the major PC vendors, higher prices, supply chain issues and Windows 8 as factors contributing to the decline.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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