Tablets hit PCs hard as Gartner and IDC report yet more shipment falls

There is more grim news for the PC industry, as new reports from Gartner and IDC have found that global shipments of PCs declined significantly in the second quarter, compared with the same period last year.

Gartner put the unit shipment decline at 10.9 per cent, reporting that PC makers around the world shipped 76 million units in the second quarter of 2013, down from 85.3 million last year. IDC, meanwhile, reported 75.6 million PC shipments in the second quarter, down 11.4 per cent from 85.4 million units shipped in the 2012 period.

"We are seeing the PC market reduction directly tied to the shrinking installed base of PCs, as inexpensive tablets displace the low-end machines used primarily for consumption in mature and developed markets," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in a statement. "In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC. This is also accounting for the collapse of the mini notebook market."

IDC attributed the declining PC shipment numbers to "a market that is still struggling with the transition to touch-based systems running Windows 8 as well as justifying ultrabook prices in the face of economic pressures and competition from tablets and other devices."

Both research firms found that Lenovo had surpassed Hewlett-Packard as the market leader in PC units shipped for the quarter. Gartner had Lenovo moving 12.7 million PCs in the second quarter as compared with 12.4 million for HP, while IDC put those numbers at 12.6 million units shipped for Lenovo and 12.4 million for HP.

But Lenovo's quarter only appeared successful relative to those of the other top PC manufacturers. Lenovo's unit shipments actually slipped 0.6 per cent according to Gartner, while IDC found a sharper decline of 1.4 per cent. However, Lenovo captured an industry-leading 16.7 per cent of the PC market in the second quarter, both research firms found, up from around 15 per cent in last year's corresponding quarter.

Other major PC makers had even rougher quarters, the two firms reported. Those included HP (a 4.8 per cent decline in year-over-year quarterly unit shipments per Gartner, a 7.7 per cent decline per IDC); Dell (-3.9 per cent, -4.2 per cent); Acer (-35.3 per cent, -32.6 per cent); and Asus (-20.5 per cent, -21.1 per cent).

One positive trend identified by IDC was the emergence of signs that some businesses are starting to replace older systems in their PC fleets.

"The U.S. market is beginning to reflect some of the Windows XP to Windows 7 transition we've been expecting in the commercial PC space, as evidenced by the strong growth in the enterprise-focused Dell PC business," IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell said in a statement.

"We're also starting to see more stabilization in shipments, which we think is a reflection of PC lifetimes finally starting to even out after a long period of gradual increase. The end result should be more PC replacements, even if consumers and companies are selective in making replacements and wait until PCs are older before replacing them."