Worldwide PC sales during the first quarter fell for the first time in six quarters, according to Gartner and IDC. But in the United States and worldwide, respectively, Apple and Lenovo prospered.
The worldwide PC market, affected by media tablet sales,
among other factors, suffered its first year-over-year decline in six quarters,
according to preliminary estimates from research firms Gartner and IDC.
In figures released April 13, both
firms said they overestimated sales in their
forecasts, expecting even modest growth. However, worldwide shipments reached
84.3 million units during the quarter by Gartner's count, for a dip of 1.1
percent from the first quarter of 2010, while IDC put the figure at 80.1
million and down 3.2 percent. In the United States, shipments totaled 16.1
million units by both accounts, compared to 17-million-plus a year ago.
"'Good-enough computing' has become a firm reality,
exemplified first by [netbooks] and now media tablets," IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou said in a
statement. "Macroeconomic forces can explain some of the ebb and flow of
the PC business, but the real question PC vendors have to think hard about is
how to enable a compelling user experience that can justify spending on the
The consequences of current events in the Middle East and
Japan, Chou added, for now remain unclear but will affect short-term market
performance for the year.
In their early estimates, the firms also disagreed about the
performances of key players, both in the United States and overall.
Hewlett-Packard undoubtedly led in both instances-on shipments of
approximately 15 million units-despite declining sales. According to Gartner,
this was due to weak consumer demand and issues in Asia. However, Gartner
again gave Acer second billing
, estimating sales of 10.9 million units for
12.9 percent market share, and third place to close rival Dell, on sales on 10
million units and 11.9 percent market share.
IDC, as it did the quarter before, found Dell to have
instead bested Acer, granting the former sales of 10.3 million units and 12.8
percent market share and the latter 9 million units and 11.2 percent market
share. Both firms agreed, however, that Acer suffered the worst blow of the
bunch, "affected by continued turbulence in EMEA [Europe, Middle East, Africa],
its biggest market," reported IDC, and still feeling "the pullback in
the [netbook] and consumer space, while its upcoming tablets have yet to fill
in the void."
has made a commitment to the tablet space
, in hopes that it will help it to
regain footing lost as consumer attentions quickly turned from the laptop-lite
devices to the even more travel-friendly tablets. The netbook industry's
losses to the Apple iPad, among other tablets, accounted for the other
discrepancy between the firms. In the United States, IDC found Toshiba to place
third (with year-on-year growth of 10.9 percent), Apple fourth (with
year-on-year growth of 18.9 percent-the highest of any in the top five) and
Acer fifth. By Gartner's tally, however, Acer made it all the way to third
position (despite year-on-year growth of negative 25 percent), followed by
Toshiba and then Apple.
By both counts, HP again led, followed by Dell.
"Dell faced tough competition in both the U.S. consumer
and professional markets," reported Gartner. "The challenge for Dell
arose in the midmarket, where more vendors tried to squeeze in to benefit from
professional PC refresh cycles. Apple maintained strong shipment growth, even
after the holiday season. The MacBook Pro refresh at the end of February
accelerated already strong Mac growth."
While not making the U.S. top five list, on the world's
stage, Lenovo experienced the strongest growth of all-16.3 percent
year-over-year, according to IDC, which said Lenovo
had maintained a "disciplined channel expansion in other markets"
while continuing to dominate in Asia Pacific. Gartner added that it had priced
both its consumer and professional offerings very competitively and
consequently enjoyed growth across all regions.
Is there hope going forward? IDC Program Vice President Bob
O'Donnell was optimistic.
"The U.S. and worldwide PC market continues to work
through a difficult era that we expect will continue into next quarter, but
will start to improve in the second half of the year," O'Donnell
said in the
statement. "While it's tempting to blame the decline completely on the
growth of media tablets, we believe other factors, including extended PC
lifetimes and the lack of compelling new PC experiences, played equally