Are personal computers on the way out?
Worldwide personal computer (PC) shipments totaled 62.2 million units in the first quarter of 2017, registering a 2.4 per cent decline from the first quarter of 2016, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc.
The first quarter of 2017 was the first time since 2007 that the PC market experienced shipments below 63m units in a quarter.
The PC industry experienced modest growth in the business PC market, but this was offset by declining consumer demand.
Consumers continued to refrain from replacing older PCs, and some consumers have abandoned the PC market altogether. However, the business segment still sees the PC as an important device, and it’s the main work device for businesses.
“While the consumer market will continue to shrink, maintaining a strong position in the business market will be critical to keep sustainable growth in the personal computer market. Winners in the business segment will ultimately be the survivors in this shrinking market,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.
“Vendors who do not have a strong presence in the business market will encounter major problems, and they will be forced to exit the PC market in the next five years. However, there will also be specialized niche players with purpose-built PCs, such as gaming PCs and ruggedized laptops.”
HP steals the show
“The top three vendors — Lenovo, HP and Dell — will battle for the large-enterprise segment. The market has extremely limited opportunities for vendors below the top three, with the exception of Apple, which has a solid customer base in specific verticals.”
The competition among the top three vendors intensified in the first quarter of 2017. Lenovo and HP were in a virtual tie for the top spot. Lenovo accounted for 19.9 per cent of worldwide PC shipments, followed by HP with 19.5 per cent share, and Dell at 15 per cent share. Lenovo’s growth exceeded the regional average in all key regions except the U.S.
HP showed the strongest growth among the top six vendors, as its global PC shipments increased 6.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2017. HP’s shipments grew in all regions, and it did especially well in the U.S. market, where it had a 15.9 per cent increase in PC shipments.
Dell has achieved four consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth. It had PC shipment increases in all regions except the U.S. Dell enhanced its channel programme and expanded its share in the large-enterprise market.
Prices go up
The personal computer industry is also experiencing a price increase. Over two years ago, the price hike was attributed to the local currency deterioration against the U.S. dollar. This time around, the price hike is due to a component shortage.
“DRAM prices have doubled since the middle of 2016, and SSD has been in short supply as well,” Kitagawa said. “The price hike will suppress PC demand even further in the consumer market, discouraging buyers away from PC purchases unless it is absolutely necessary. The price hike started affecting the market in 1Q17. This issue will grow into a much bigger problem in 2Q17, and we expect it to continue throughout 2017.”
In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 12.3m units in the first quarter of 2017, a 2.4 per cent decline from the first quarter of 2016. The U.S. market has experienced a modest decline for two quarters. Much of the decline is attributed to the weak consumer market.
PC shipments in EMEA totaled 17.9m units in the first quarter of 2017, a 6.9 per cent decline year over year. All major regions in EMEA experienced a decline in the first quarter. However, Russia saw single-digit PC growth, which was attributed to stabilization of the local economy.
The Asia/Pacific PC market showed some stabilization, as PC shipments totaled 22.8m units in the first quarter of 2017, a 0.8 per cent decline from the first quarter of 2016.
PC spending in China began to show a modest recovery. Steady economic conditions were an influencing factor driving a PC refresh.