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

July 13, 2011 at 2:00 PM

PC sales still recovering from recent bender

The global PC market is still recovering from a four-year binge of consumer sales, according to the latest reports from reseach firms Gartner and IDC.

Gartner said PC sales grew 2.3 percent in the second quarter — gaining, but well below Gartner’s earlier forecast of 6.7 percent growth. IDC said sales grew 2.6 percent, just under its 2.9 percent projection.

Apparently consumers are just fine with the computers they’ve bought over the past few years and weren’t yet looking for replacements in the first half of the year, but companies were busy upgrading their systems.

IDC analyst Jay Chou predicted that sales will pick up in the second half of the year, boosted by refreshed products and easier comparisons with slower sales in late 2010.

Gartner’s Mikako Kitagawa said the market is “shifting to modest, but steady growth” after four strong years of consumer sales driven by netbooks and inexpensive laptops.

“The slow overall growth indicates that the PC market is still in a period of adjustment, which began in the second half of 2010,” Kitagawa said in a release.

HP remained the biggest PC company, with 17.4 percent of the market during the second quarter. Globally its sales were up 3 percent, but they fell 1.2 percent in the U.S.

Dell was the second largest firm, with 12.5 percent of the market, but Lenovo’s a close third. Lenovo’s sales grew 22.5 percent during the quarter, giving it 12 percent of the global market.


In the U.S., retailers chased the tablet business and consumer PC sales suffered. But business sales were strong, with midsize and largest companies going through an upgrade cycle.

“Given the hype around media tablets such as the iPad, retailers were very conservative in placing orders for PCs,” Kitagawa said in the release. “Instead, they wanted to secure space for media tablets. Some PC vendors had to lower their inventory through promotions, while others slimmed their product lines at retailers.”

IDC’s take is that U.S. PC sales are down because the netbook craze has faded, sales look thin compared with a surge in early 2010, and demand has softened “as corporate buyers continue to focus on increasing share of their IT budget in new IT solutions such as cloud and virtualization, and consumer interest shifts to media tablets,” analyst Rajani Singh said in a release.

Apple PC sales in the U.S. grew 8.5 percent in the quarter, moving into third place, past Acer and Toshiba. HP and Dell remain the largest in the U.S., according to Gartner. IDC pegged Apple’s U.S. sales growth at 14.7 percent and also ranked it third, behind HP and Dell.


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