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Research: PC Shipment Decline Slows

Global PC shipments dropped 1.7 percent in the first quarter of 2014 as compared to the same period in the previous year, according to market research company Gartner. The decline is the smallest the segment has seen in the last seven quarters.

One factor easing the decline is the end of support for Windows XP, according to the company.

"All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter. Among key countries, Japan was greatly affected by the end of XP support, registering a 35 percent year-over-year increase in PC shipments. The growth was also boosted by sales tax change. We expect the impact of XP migration worldwide to continue throughout 2014."

Despite weakness in the segment overall, four of the top five PC vendors showed growth compared to the first quarter of 2013, with Lenovo leading the way in both market share, at 16.9 percent in the most recent quarter, and growth, at 10.9 percent.

"The company's shipments grew in all regions except Asia/Pacific, where growth in China has been problematic," according to a Gartner news release. "Overall, the China market again slowed, in part due to the long holiday in the middle of the quarter."

Acer, fourth in market share with 5,564,358 units shipped, saw a 14.8 percent drop in sales, making it the only top five provider to see a contraction compared to the first quarter of last year.

HP maintained its spot at number two, growing PC sales by 4.1 percent to capture 16 percent of the market as it shipped more than 12.2 million units in the quarter. It was the company's fastest growth in the segment in two years.

Dell's 9.5 million units sold was good for third place by market share, with 12.5 percent. The company's 9 percent growth in the segment was second only to Lenovo's growth for the period. It was the third quarter in a row the company saw growth in the segment, and the highest it's seen since the final quarter of 2011.

Asus rounds out the top five at 5.3 million shipments and 4.8 percent growth.

All other vendors, comprising 40.5 percent of all shipments during the quarter, saw a decline of 9.2 percent compared to the first quarter of 2013.

"Economies of scale matter tremendously in this high-volume, low-profit market, which is forcing some vendors, such as Sony, out of the market," according to information released by Gartner. "In contrast,  all of the top five vendors, except Acer, registered year-over-year shipment growth. The top thee vendors — Lenovo, HP and Dell — have all confirmed the importance of the PC business as part of their overall business strategies."

Growth of the segment in the United States was somewhat stronger, improving 2.1 percent f when compared to the first quarter of 2013.

HP led the market with a quarter of all PC shipments in the United States. The 3.5 million units it moved was good for a 1.8 percent growth over its 2013 quarter one shipments.

Dell, in second place with 23.8 percent of the U.S. market, was also second in growth compared to the first quarter of 2013, improving by 13.2 percent.

As in global shipments, Lenovo saw the highest growth nationally, picking up 16.8 percent more shipments than during the same period of 2013. The company's 10.4 percent market share was good for fourth place in the national market.

Apple, absent from the top five global PC vendors, was in the third place in the United States. The company saw a decline in national shipments of 3.8 percent. It holds 10.8 percent of the market for the quarter with better than 1.2 million units shipped.

Toshiba is the only other company in the top five U.S. PC vendors not represented in the top five global sellers. It's also the only other company in the top five to see a decline in shipments compared to the first quarter of 2013, posting a decline of 7 percent.

All other vendors, representing 21.5 percent of the segment, matched Toshiba's 7 percent decline.

"In terms of the major structural shift of the PC market, the U.S. market is ahead of other regions," Kitagawa said in a prepared statement. "The installed base of PCs started declining in 2013, while the worldwide installed base still grew. The U.S. PC market has been highly saturated with devices: 99 percent of households own at least one or more desktops or laptops, and more than half of them own both. While tablet penetration is expected to reach 50 percent in 2014, some consumer spending could return to PCs."

Gartner's PC shipment data "includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including x86 tablets equipped with Windows 8, but excludes Chromebooks and other tablets," according to information released by the company.

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About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].