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Tablet boom weakens Q1 PC sales

Posted: 30 May 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:global PC sales? tablet boom? first quarter sales?

A new report released by IHS iSuppli reveals that the surging popularity of Apple Inc.'s iPad and other media tablets is starting to impact the worldwide PC market. According to the market research firm, global PC shipments in the first quarter dropped 0.3 percent to 81.3 million units from a year ago.

First quarter PC unit shipments were down more than 12 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, IHS reported.

Three out of the world's top five PC makers suffered year-over-year declines in shipments during the first quarter, according to IHS. Third-ranked PC maker Acer Inc., which sells a high proportion of netbook-type PCs that face a direct competitive threat from media tablets, bore the brunt of the downturn, with its first-quarter shipments plunging by 20.4 percent to 9.2 million units, down from 11.6 million during the same period in 2010, the firm said.

"The increasing momentum of the media tablet market, led by the iPad, is creating a difficult environment for the PC industry," said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms research at IHS. "All the attention surrounding tablets contributed to weak consumer demand for PCs in the first quarter."

And although corporate PC demand was strong, it wasn't enough to offset the decline in consumer sales, IHS said.

Top 5 PC market share.

While IHS believes the jury is still out on exactly how much tablet sales are cannibalizing PC sales, the rising number of tablet models on the market and some high-profile product launches in the first quarter created confusion among consumers as to how to view the tablet platform relative to the PC and contributed to the PC sales decline, Wilkins said.

The first-quarter PC sales decline surprised IHS analysts, considering that the fourth quarter of 2010 represented the best period ever for global PC sales as PC shipments hit a new quarterly record of 93.1 million units, IHS said. Corporate demand had been driving growth of the market, according to the firm.

Despite first-quarter weakness, IHS expects PC sales growth to return later in the year. The firm is currently forecasting that the global PC market will expand by 8 percent to 373 million units in 2011, up from 345 million in 2010. This compares to 14 percent growth in 2010, IHS said.

Global 1Q11 PC shipment share.

Hewlett-Packard Co. continued its reign as the No.1 PC vendor in the first quarter, with a market share of 18.9 percent, according to IHS. The company suffered a 2.1 percent decline in sales compared to the same time a year ago because of the difficult conditions in the consumer market, IHS said.

Dell Inc. continued to hold on the No. 2 position over third-ranked Acer in the first quarter, with a market share of 12.9 percent, IHS said.

Rounding out the top five first quarter PC vendors were Lenovo Group Ltd and Toshiba Corp., the only top five PC OEMs to achieve year-over-year growth in the first quarter, IHS said.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times

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