Worldwide PC shipments totaled 91.8 million units in the third quarter of 2011, a 3.2 percent increase from the third quarter of 2010, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. These results are slightly lower than Gartner’s earlier projection of 5.1 percent growth for the quarter. The EMEA region contributed to lower-than-expected growth led by a weak Western European market.
“The inventory buildup, which slowed growth the last four quarters, mostly cleared out during the third quarter of this year; however, the PC industry has been performing below normal seasonality,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “As expected, back-to-school PC sales were disappointing in mature markets, confirming that the consumer PC market continues to be weak. The popularity of non-PC devices, including media tablets, such as the iPad and smartphones, took consumers’ spending away from PCs.
“As the PC market faced a slowdown, vendor consolidation has become a more apparent trend in the industry. Lenovo’s recent merger with NEC, and its acquisition of Medion, as well as HP’s announcement that it may spin off or sell its PC business, underlined this trend during the quarter.”
HP, the No. 1 vendor based on global PC shipments, grew faster than the industry average, and its market share reached 17.7 percent in the third quarter of 2011 (see Table 1). Despite announcing in the middle of 2Q11 the potential spinoff of its PC business, HP experienced strong growth in the U.S., while outside the U.S., growth was relatively weak or average.
Lenovo became the second-largest PC vendor in the worldwide market for the first time. The company’s expansion was boosted in part by the joint vendor with NEC in Japan. However, its aggressive marketing to both the professional and consumer PC markets accelerated its shipment volume.
Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 3Q11 (Units)
Note: Data includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad. Final estimates will be subject to change.
Lenovo shipments include NEC shipments, but not Medion’s shipments. Source: Gartner (October 2011)
Dell’s performance was below the industry average in most regions, as the company faced intensified competition in the professional space, where Dell has been traditionally strong. Acer mostly cleared its inventory buildup in the EMEA region by the third quarter of 2011. However, channels have been adopting a conservative position in regard to placing orders following the inventory issues. Asus widened the gap with Toshiba, the sixth-largest vendor. Asus achieved strong growth in China.
In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 17.8 million units in the third quarter of 2011, a 1.1 percent increase from the third quarter of 2010. The U.S. PC market experienced year-over-year growth for the first time in three quarters. While the consumer market continued to be weak with disappointing back-to-school sales in the third quarter, the inventory was kept mostly in check as industry expectations were relatively low.
“The main contributor to the weak consumer PC market in the U.S. was intensified competition for consumers’ money,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “Media tablets and smartphones took center stage in the U.S. retail sector, and the expectation is for continuing demand for these devices throughout the holiday season.”
HP showed strong growth in the U.S. PC market, as shipments increased 15.1 percent in the third quarter, and its market share totaled 28.9 percent (see Table 2). Despite the potential spinoff of its PC business, HP executives’ efforts to give the appearance of “business as usual” seemed to work in the quarter.
Dell struggled as shipments declined 7.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011. “Dell’s issue has been balancing profitability and market share gain, a difficult task in a PC industry where high volumes and low margins are the norm,” Ms. Kitagawa said.
Gartner’s early study shows that Apple experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors in the U.S. PC market. Apple’s PC shipments increased 21.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011. The robust growth of the MacBook Air continued to lead Apple’s overall growth in the U.S. market.
Preliminary United States PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 3Q11 (Units)
Note: Data includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad. Final estimates will be subject to change. Source: Gartner (October 2011)
PC growth in EMEA reached 26.6 million units in the third quarter of 2011, a 2.9 percent decline from the second quarter of 2010. It was the third consecutive quarter that the EMEA region has experienced negative growth. However, analysts said vendors may have seen the end of backed-up inventory issues, which have been pulling down growth. The consumer PC market in Western Europe remained weak, with consumer confidence permanently shaken by the economic issues spreading across most of the region. Furthermore, the market share of mini-notebooks continued to decline, especially in Western Europe, which also contributed to the weak year-over-year comparison.
In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments reached 31.8 million units in the third quarter of 2011, a 6 percent increase from the same period last year. Vendors continued to stimulate demand aggressively with promotions and prices, benefiting buyers looking for good prices. It also provided an opportunity for some consumers to buy their first mobile PC.
The PC market in Latin America grew 19.6 percent in the third quarter of 2011. Mobile PC shipments grew 31.1 percent year over year, and desk-based PC shipments increased 6.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011.
PC shipments in Japan grew 3 percent, with shipments reaching 3.9 million units. The consumer market received a boost in demand with the introduction by vendors of new consumer models in September. There was also a rebound in production for the professional market, after a drop in enterprise demand because of the higher prioritization for business continuity plans that coincided with the earthquake and tsunami in March.
These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner’s PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing product planning, distribution, marketing and sales organizations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe. Additional research can be found on the Computing Hardware section on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/it/products/research/asset_129157_2395.jsp
Source: Gartner, Inc.
MacDailyNews Note: In Apple’s case, these are preliminary estimates. We’ll know the actual total Mac unit sales next Tuesday, October 18th after market close.