PC Shipments Decline During Back-to-School Season

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As expected, PC shipments declined year-over-year during the third quarter of 2013. According to market research firm Gartner, shipments fell 8.6% from last year to only 80.3 million units. Shipments were up from the previous quarter, boosted by back-to-school sales and new offerings.

Though the third quarter numbers represent a sixth consecutive quarterly year-over-year decline in PC shipments, top PC brands did manage to see improvement. Lenovo, which overtook HP in market share the previous quarter is still on top, despite predictions that HP will soon retake its lead. Lenovo improved its global shipments to 14.1 million during the third quarter, a 2.8% increase over 2012. HP also improved its global numbers, raising shipments 1.5% to 13.7 million. Dell was the only other major PC manufacturer to improve year-over-year, increasing shipments 1% to 9.3 million.

"The third quarter is often referred to as the 'back-to-school' quarter for PC sales, and sales this quarter dropped to their lowest volume since 2008," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Consumers' shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets. A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets."

U.S. PC shipments actually improved over 2012 with a 3.5% increase to 16.1 overall units shipped during the second quarter. All major brands managed to increase shipments in the U.S. except for Apple, which declined 2.3% to only 2.1 million units. Lenovo saw the largest shipment increase in the U.S., shipping nearly 1.7 million units - a 24.6% increase over its 2012 U.S. shipments.

"The positive U.S. results could mean that seasonal strength and channel fill for new product launches in 3Q13 finally overcame the structural decline." said Kitagawa. "Even though 3Q13 shipments were compared with artificially weak 2Q13 because of inventory control for the Windows 8 launch at the time, the 3Q13 results imply the U.S. market may have passed the worst declining stage, which started in 2010. The shrinking installed base of PCs has also passed the steepest decline phase because the structural change has progressed fairly quickly. Tablets will continue to impact the PC market, but the U.S. PC market will see a more moderate decrease rather than a steep decline in the next two years."

(Image courtesy Lenovo)

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