Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs totalled 60.4 million units and recorded flat year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2018, according to IDC. The results exceeded the earlier forecast of a 1.5% decline and mark the third consecutive quarter where traditional PC shipment volume has hovered around flat growth year-on-year.
Although the numbers are preliminary, the data seems to indicate a continued build-up in commercial renewal activity as the main driver for the stabilising trend. Business uptake of Windows 10 systems appear to be steadily ongoing, benefitting commercially-focused PC OEMs such as HP, Dell and Lenovo. Demand for premium notebooks in both the consumer and commercial segments has also helped major vendors retain better margins and garner buyer interest. Furthermore, continued focus on gaming systems has injected slight improvement in pockets of the consumer space. Unlike the first quarter of 2017, an improved supply of key notebook components also loosened pressures on both supply and pricing, leading to some recovery of share for the smaller vendors.
From a geographic perspective, mature markets uniformly fared positively. The US market saw modest growth after six quarters of year-on-year decline and Japan continued with its seventh consecutive quarter of growth. Emerging markets were more of a mixed bag as APeJ shrank for the quarter, while Latin America continued to recover positively against a tough 2017. Research manager Jay Chou said:
“The component shortage that initially impacted portions of 2017 led some vendors to stock up inventory to avoid expected component price hikes, and that led to some concerns of excess stock that would be hard to digest in subsequent quarters. However, the market is continuing on a resilient path that should see modest commercial momentum through 2020”.
Meanwhile, senior research analyst Neha Mahajan also commented:
“The year kicked off with optimism returning to the U.S. PC market, especially on the notebook side. A likely rise in commercial activity amidst a positive economic environment is expected to further strengthen demand. The retail platform too shows signs of stability especially with a fast-growing gaming community adding to the confidence”.
The USA market saw a promising opening quarter for the year, with almost all major vendors reporting increases in notebook sales. Overall, total PC shipments for the first quarter of 2018 stood at 13.5 million units.
In the EMEA region, the traditional PC market showed stable growth for the quarter, benefiting from a positive performance across both product categories. Continued mobility adoption and increased customer awareness of the value proposition of more premium devices enabled notebooks to maintain a growth trajectory. On the other side, desktops posted strong results, driven by the growing gaming market as well as long-awaited commercial device refreshes in certain sub-regions.
The APeJ traditional PC market ended the quarter slightly short of expectations. India and Indonesia showed better than anticipated results but the PC market in China performed below forecast with shipments weakened by a smaller number of promotions in the consumer segment and softer demand from the public sector.
The Japan commercial market was a couple of points below expectations due to a slowing of the momentum seen in the fourth quarter of 2017 but it still maintained healthy growth in the first quarter of 2018. The consumer segment was slightly better than the previous quarter in term of growth but IDC believes shipments during the first three quarters of 2017 affected future demand, causing growth to decelerate in the fourth quarter and after.
HP maintained a comfortable lead over all others in the market with its eighth consecutive quarter of overall growth—up 4.3% year-on-year—and growth in all regions except Latin America.
Lenovo saw its third consecutive quarter where year-on-year volume stabilised, with flat global growth and a slower pace of decline in the US.
Dell posted the strongest year-on-year growth out of all the major companies, growing 6.4% and buoyed by strong performances in nearly every region.
Acer held onto the fourth position. Its ongoing expansion into gaming and continued investments in Chromebooks have paid dividends for the company but also caused some tough going in other arenas.
Apple finished the quarter in the fifth position with a year-on-year decline in shipments of 4.8%.
Gartner has also released the information from its global PC tracker, which found that the overall market declined by -1.4% during the first quarter of 2018. It also ranked the top five companies slightly differently—HP are still on top with a 20.8% share, Lenovo are still second with 20% and Dell third with 16%. However, Gartner found that Apple were actually in fourth place with a 6.9% share, while Asus came in fifth with 6.2%. (AF)