PC shipments point to industry upheaval
By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling
The decline in PC shipments was worse than expected in the last quarter of 2012, with both International Data Corp. and Gartner saying the continued poor performance of the global PC market can no longer be solely attributed to the sluggish economy.
"Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by cannibalizing PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs," said Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.
"Consumers expected all sorts of cool PCs with tablet and touch capabilities," explained David Daoud, research director for IDC. "Instead, they mostly saw traditional PCs that feature a new OS (Windows 8) optimized for touch and tablet with applications and hardware that are not yet able to fully utilize these capabilities."
Overall, Q4 global PC shipments totaled 89.8 million units according to IDC, and an estimated 90.3 million units according to Gartner. Both estimates showed significant declines versus the same period in 2011 — down 6.4 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.
Three of the top five PC OEMs had negative growth compared to Q4 2011, although the world's top manufacturer, HP was essentially flat – declining just 0.5 percent in Q4 2012. Others were not so fortunate. Acer declined 28 percent (11 percent according to Gartner). Dell, the third largest PC maker, continued its downward slide with both market research firms measuring declines of just under 21 percent for the Round Rock, Texas company.
The lone bright spots were fifth place Asus — which grew approximately 5-6 percent to claim 7.2 percent market share — and second place OEM Lenovo, which continued its growth streak to claim over 15 percent market share on Q4 growth of 8.2 percent.
Not everyone agrees with the theory that consumers will continue to switch to tablets over the long term, however.
"Tablets do a limited set of things very well, but most people would say they come up short when it comes to content creation," says Dan Olds of the Gabriel Consulting Group, speaking with Computer World. "Researching and writing a large report, or putting together a complex presentation would also tax the limits of a tablet — and the user's patience."
Olds, and other some other analysts, believe that PCs will remain dominant as productivity and content-creation tools, even if casual consumption and internet browsing continues to move to tablets.