Global PC market contracts in Q1 in worrying sign for future

16:09, April 14, 2011      

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Data from two U.S. market research firms released Wednesday show global PC shipments declined during the first quarter of 2011 signs of a sluggish market.

Research results from Gartner Inc. show worldwide PC shipments totaled 84.3 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a 1.1 percent decline from the same period last year. The research firm's earlier forecast was for 3 percent growth in the first quarter.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), global PC shipments declined 3.2 percent to 80.6 million units in the first quarter. IDC had expected 1.5 percent growth, which the firm had described as conservative.

The two companies have different ways of measuring the market.

Gartner said the shipment results indicated potential sluggishness, not just a normal seasonal slowdown, and attributed the biggest inhibitor of growth to weak demand for consumer PCs.

"Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers. Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics," Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said.

"With the launch of iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs. We're investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market," he said.

Gartner said there had been steady growth in the professional PC sector in this quarter, driven by the replacement cycle. Without the professional segment growth, the PC market could have experienced one of the worst declines in its recent history.

IDC attributed the sluggish market to a combination of factors.

It said the industry could not completely blame the decline on the growth of media tablets, noting that other factors, including frugal businesses, extended PC lifetimes and lack of compelling new PC experiences, played equally significant roles.

Situations in the Middle East and Japan would surely influence the short-term market performance for 2011, it said.

"The real question PC vendors have to think hard about is how to enable a compelling user experience that can justify spending on the added horsepower," IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou said.

According to IDC, the global PC market is expected to work through the sluggishness into next quarter, but start to improve in the second half of this year.

Hewlett-Packard Co. remained the world's No. 1 PC vendor in both companies' results. Gartner puts Acer at No. 2 and Dell at No. 3, while IDC has Dell second and Acer third.

Lenovo, the world's fourth biggest PC vendor in the data of both firms, was the only company among the top five posting double-digit growth on shipments.

Source: Xinhua
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