Conflicting PC data show a market in decline

Reports on the global PC market differ, with one exception: None shows a comeback coming anytime soon.

By Benzinga Oct 10, 2013 2:48PM

Old computer equipment (c) Image Source/Getty ImagesBy Tim Parker

The latest PC numbers are out, but they're about as clear as mud. Two separate reports show different results, but they do agree on one fact: The market is still in decline.

First, IDC reported worldwide PC shipments of 81.6 million units -- better than expected, according to the report. However, there was a 7.6 percent year-over-year decline overall. There was a slight uptick in the enterprise and public sector markets which slowed the decline, but the report described consumer demand as "lukewarm at best."

Manufacturer Lenovo saw a 2.2 percent year-over-year gain in market share while Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) was up 0.4 percent and Dell (DELL) gained 0.3 percent. Sales in the Asia/Pacific region were of particular concern since emerging markets were seen as major growth regions going forward.

In the American market, Hewlett-Packard was the top manufacturer followed by Dell, Apple (AAPL), Lenovo and Toshiba. Overall, the U.S. PC market declined 0.2 percent, according to the report.

Gartner released its version of the numbers on Wednesday and they looked worse than IDC's. Gartner reported worldwide shipments of 80.3 million units representing an 8.6 percent decline in the third quarter.

"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. "A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets."

But there was a bright spot. In the United States, the PC market grew 3.5 percent over the 2012 third quarter and the report notes that the drastic U.S. declines are likely over. Like the IDC report, Gartner found that Lenovo was the worldwide market share leader with Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Acer in the next three spots.

In the U.S., Hewlett-Packard held the most market share followed by Dell, Apple, Lenovo, and Toshiba.

Of particular note from both reports was Apple. The IDC report showed U.S. Mac sales off 11.2 percent from the same quarter last year while the Gartner report reported a decline of 2.3 percent. Neither, however, include the Mac's growing share outside of the United States, according to AppleInsider.

So which report do you believe? Take your pick, but neither shows any real sign that the PC is staging a comeback.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Tim Parker was long Apple.

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Oct 10, 2013 4:37PM
The Cloud doesn't have enough Raw power to provide the Hype folks are preaching. Nor as the first poster stated, to be trusted.

Concerning PC sales, eventually folks will tire of looking at a tiny Screen and destroying their eyesight. Eventually they will want a much bigger Screen. PCs and Notebooks will be here for a long time to come.

Oct 10, 2013 4:45PM
PCs - "I'll be back". In a moment...please be patient. 
Oct 10, 2013 4:15PM
The PC is still important as an office center.  Handhelds cannot fax, print or store much data or photos.  HH's are great (along with smartphones) for travel and some entertainment.  I do not trust 'The Cloud' to safely protect my important data and my PC's battery does not die in the middle of something important.
Oct 14, 2013 1:58PM
Its going to be quite a while before the phone will replace the desktop. (if ever)
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