PC Sales Grew in Q3 Despite Worries: iSuppli

The global PC market saw sales of desktops, notebooks and entry-level servers rise during Q3, despite negativity over consumer spending and component shortages, said iSuppli.

The global PC market in the third quarter posted growth of 7 percent sequentially and 10.3 percent year-over-year, meeting expectations despite a "growing chorus of negativity regarding the market," iSuppli reported Nov. 5. While netbooks and tablets tend to dominate the consumer conversation, it was desktop sales, following strong business demand, that kept figures swinging upward.

Worldwide shipments reached a total of 88.1 million units, compared to 82.6 million the quarter before and 79.9 million a year ago.

"From warnings issued by Taiwanese motherboard makers, to word of declining exports from China, to mounting concerns over consumer spending, there has been a drumbeat of negative news regarding the PC market," Matthew Wilkins, an iSuppli principal analyst, said in a statement. "However, even with consumer confidence shaken by government austerity measures, individuals and businesses continued to purchase PCs in the third quarter, driving up global shipments smartly."

While desktops, notebooks and entry level servers all rose sequentially, as well as year-over-year, desktop PCs posted the strongest growth of the three, rising by 11 percent sequentially. Mobile PCs, by contrast, rose just 4 percent sequentially, though 15 percent over figures from a year earlier. However, these rates were down 41 and 42 percent from those of the second and first quarters, respectively, due to what iSuppli dubs "consumer confidence issues."

Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa, in an Oct. 13 report, described PC purchases as being hampered by the hype around media tablets. While tablets don't replace PCs, Kitagawa explained, they nonetheless led consumers and the channel, expecting new devices to arrive before the holidays, to take a "wait and see approach" that has delayed purchases.

Gartner similarly estimated that shipments during the quarter reached 88.3 million, for a quarterly growth of 11 percent.

During the fourth quarter, iSuppli is expecting shipments to continue to rise, by an estimated 5.3 percent. Still, the figure is down considerably from the fourth quarter of 2009, which saw year-on-year growth of 14.5 percent.

According to Gartner, Hewlett-Packard, despite a generally flat year, again led the global PC market, followed by Acer and Dell, each of which grew nearly 10 percent year-over-year. Lenovo, growing more than 30 percent during the quarter, finished fourth, followed by Asus and Toshiba.

All six of the top PC vendors additionally have media tablets in the works or already available.