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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 13, 2011 at 2:13 PM

PC sales tumble, worst showing in years

The big two PC research firms both said first quarter PC sales were awful. Gartner and IDC had predicted it would be a slow quarter and it turned out to be worse.

Events in Japan and the Middle East were factors, as were the economic situation and Apple’s iPad. But mostly people are doing fine with the PCs they have and aren’t in a rush to upgrade, apparently.

“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 significant roles,” Bob O’Donnell, IDC vice president, said in the release.

IDC said global PC sales fell 3.2 percent compared with the first quarter of 2011, much worse than the 1.5 percent growth the firm had predicted. In the U.S., shipments fell 10 percent from the high demand seen in recent years.

Gartner said global sales fell 1.1 percent, below the 3 percent growth it had predicted. It blamed the decline on weak demand for consumer PCs.

“Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers. Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics,” Mikako Kitagawa, Gartner principal analyst, said in its release. “With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs.”

Corporate spending on replacement PCs kept the market from “one of the worst declines in recent history,” Gartner said. It expects the corporate replacement sales to continue into late 2011 or the start of 2012.

IDC said spiking fuel and commodity prices were also a factor — you may hold off on that new PC when a tank of gas costs $75 — and sales in China cooled after big growth in 2010.

Both firms said HP held its position as the world’s biggest PC company. IDC puts Dell in second place, followed by Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba. Gartner puts Acer in second place, followed by Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba.

In the U.S. market, Lenovo is bumped from the top five by Apple, which is fourth or fifth place with 8.5 percent to 9.3 percent market share depending on which research firm you ask.

Here’s Gartners rank of the top global PC makers:

gartner.jpg

Comments | Topics: Apple, Intel, iPad

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