First quarter PC shipments weak, but better than predicted

Global PC shipments in the first three months of the year were nothing to get excited about, but reports from both International Data Corporation (IDC) and Gartner released this week indicate a slight uptick in growth instead of the expected decline compared to the same period last year.

Gartner put the number of units shipped worldwide in the first quarter at 89 million, nearly 2% higher than last year, while IDC reported a more than 2% increase. After a decline in Q1 of 2011, the new data shows that the PC market is exhibiting signs of life this year despite increasing competitive pressure from tablets.

Weak consumer demand dragged down the industry as a whole, counteracting stronger performance on the enterprise side as businesses continue to replace their older equipment. With tablet prices hovering in the same range as those for many laptops, netbooks, and budget desktop PC’s, it’s no surprise that many consumers are opting for more streamlined tablets for their browsing, emailing, and gaming needs.

The shortage of hard-disk drives caused by catastrophic floods in Thailand last year is still having an impact on the industry as the affected manufacturers ramp their production back up, but the top PC makers have mitigated the scarcity by keeping a tight rein on inventory and not passing along price increases to customers.

In terms of global ranking, Hewlett-Packard is still at the top of the heap, with Lenovo and Dell sitting at number two and three, respectively. The biggest gains were made by Lenovo, which shipped nearly 44% more PC’s this past quarter than it did in early 2011, and Asus, ranked number five, which shipped 22% more. IDC analyst Loren Loverde expects “PC shipments to pick up significantly by the fourth quarter and beyond as HDD supply and pricing are normalized, Windows 8 is launched, and replacements pick up.”

Jason Cella

Jason Cella has covered the IT and telecommunications industries as an editor and writer at Hoover's since 1998.

Read more articles by Jason Cella.

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