Personal-computer shipments dropped for a fifth straight quarter, the longest losing streak on record, as consumers continued to favor touch-screen tablets and smartphones for getting online.
Second-quarter global unit shipments fell 10.9 percent to 76 million, market researcher Gartner Inc. (IT:US) said yesterday in a statement. Sales slid from a year earlier in all regions, including a 1.4 percent drop in the U.S., Gartner said. IDC, another research firm, put the decline at 11.4 percent, narrower than its projected 11.7 percent contraction.
The extended slump adds to evidence that PC makers and suppliers are still struggling to lure back consumers who have decided they can get the Internet access and computing they need from cheaper tablets. The industry’s aim of having every person own a PC is no longer realistic, said Loren Loverde, an analyst at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC.
“Now we’re thinking more conservatively that it’s going to be one tablet per person and one PC per family,” he said. Still, the smaller drop in the U.S. helped spark some optimism that the PC market may do better than some of the most pessimistic forecasts for the year, Loverde said.
PC sales have yet to get a bump from the October release of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Windows 8, an upgrade to the industry’s dominant operating system that was optimized for touch screens, or new processors from Intel Corp. (INTC) Such new products have traditionally acted as triggers for companies and consumers to trade in old machines. A broad industry failure to bring touch capabilities to PCs at an affordable price has held back the market, according to IDC.
Beijing-based Lenovo Group Ltd. (992) posted the narrowest global decline in shipments among the top five vendors, helping it supplant Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) as the largest PC maker, Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner said. Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard have been trading the top spot since last year.
“In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC,” Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner, said in the statement.
Lenovo (992)’s unit sales fell 0.6 percent, giving it a market share of 16.7 percent, compared with 14.9 percent in last year’s second quarter, Gartner said. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)’s global shipments declined 4.8 percent, for 16.3 percent of the market, while Dell Inc. (DELL:US) posted a 3.9 percent drop, leaving it with an 11.8 percent share.
“Balancing growth and profitability across our entire PC business is our focus going forward,” Lenovo Chairman Yang Yuanqing said in an e-mailed statement.
Lenovo rose 3.6 percent to HK$7.15 at the close of trading in Hong Kong. Acer Inc. (2353) gained 3.1 percent to NT$23.40 in Taipei and Asustek Computer Inc. (2357) added 0.2 percent to NT$262.50. Hewlett-Packard advanced 1.7 percent to $26.38 at the close in New York.
Shipments of desktop and laptop PCs will decline 10.6 percent in 2013, while tablet sales will increase 67.9 percent, Gartner estimated last month.
U.S. shipments declined to 15 million in the second quarter. Still, unit sales gained 8.5 percent from the prior quarter, and the year-over-year drop was the smallest in the past seven quarters, Gartner said. IDC pegged the U.S. decline at 1.9 percent, to 15.7 million units.
“The biggest news is that the U.S. improved,” said IDC’s Loverde. “We’ve been looking for a turning point in shipments. It’s good that it wasn’t any worse.”
Dell (DELL)’s worldwide decline in shipments slowed, and the company posted growth in the U.S. and Japan, according to the Gartner report. Acer’s global sales fell 35 percent, while Asustek posted a 21 percent drop, reflecting their plans to exit the small notebook market.
U.S. shipments for Dell (DELL), whose founder Michael Dell is seeking to buy out the company so he can reduce its focus on PCs, rose 6.4 percent, Gartner said. Hewlett-Packard’s unit sales in the U.S. slipped less than 1 percent, while Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s slid 4.3 percent, the researcher said.
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