HP Unruffled by Downturn in Its Consumer PC Sales

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-06-01 Print this article Print

HP, along with several other top personal PC makers, lost millions in sales to Apple and Android tablets in the last year. But the company contends there's plenty of room for all devices in the brave new, all-connected world.

Some observers of the IT world were taken aback by Hewlett-Packard's most recent quarterly earnings report, which plainly showed that the world's largest supplier of personal computers had slipped in the consumer laptop/notebook department.

People who follow the PC business closely, however, were not surprised. These folks already knew that Apple's iPad and iPad 2, as well as a flock of Google Android-based tablets, had cut deeply into all mobile PC sales during 2010 and early 2011.

The numbers were stark. Along with all the major PC makers, HP's consumer PC sales fell sharply in the quarter compared to a year ago, before Apple's iPad and numerous other tablets hit the marketplace. Analysts have projected worldwide sales of between 30 million and 50 million iPads in 2011, not to mention the other Android- and Windows-based tablets now on the market.

"HP experienced uneven consumer performance across its product categories during the quarter with continued softness in consumer PCs across all geographies," was the soft way CFO Cathy Lesjack positioned the company's consumer PC cliff dive in the quarterly report.

HP's consumer PC sales fell a whopping 23 percent in the quarter compared to one year ago. Overall, the worldwide PC market shrank by 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared with 2010, researcher IDC reported. IDC actually had predicted growth of 1.5 percent in the quarter.

Another industry researcher, IHS iSuppli, reported that portable PC sales slumped by more than 11 million units during Q1 2011, attributing it directly to increased interest in tablets. IHS iSuppli expressed surprise at a slight quarter-on-quarter decrease (to 81.3 million units), because PC shipments had reached a quarterly high at the end of 2010 on strong corporate demand.

Acer's PC sales were down 20.4 percent, Dell's were also down. In fact, five of the world's top seven notebook producers are all in the same boat.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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