Gartner warns of continued PC sales slump

Global PC Market Shipments Drop Again in Q1 2018 Dell Sees Strongest Growth Gartner

The biggest contributor to a poor quarter, the company claims, was China with a 5.7 percent year-on-year drop in shipments, blamed on large enterprises delaying purchases and upgrades while awaiting guidance from the National People's Congress, while Asia Pacific (APAC) dropped 3.9 percent and the U.S. 2.9 percent over the same period, slumps that were not offset by small growth in other regions including a 1.7 percent year-on-year increase for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). The results passed expectations of a 1.5 percent decline and marks the third consecutive quarter where traditional PC shipment volume has hovered around flat growth.

"The major contributor to the decline came from China, where unit shipments declined 5.7% year over year", said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. Interestingly, Kitagawa said state-owned and large enterprises in China delayed purchases/upgrades to wait for policy/budget news from the National People's Congress.

The top three vendors - HP, Lenovo and Dell - accounted for 56.9% of global PC shipments in the first quarter of 2018, compared with 54.5% of shipments in the first quarter of 2017. It said PC shipments around the world totaled 60.4 million.

On Wednesday, HP announced a refreshed lineup of Pavilion desktop and notebook PCs.

One potential contributing factor in the continued decline of traditional PC sales is, few will be surprised to read, higher average selling prices (ASPs) driven in no small part by the scarcity and subsequent increase in cost of DRAM parts. HP Inc. was adversely impacted by declining demand in the US, which accounts for one-third of its total shipments. "Demand for premium notebooks in both the consumer and commercial segments have also helped major vendors retain better margins and garner buyer interest", IDC said in its analysis for Q1, 2018. "At the same time, vendors were cautious in overstocking due to the upcoming release of new models in the second quarter of 2018 with Intel's new eighth-generation core processors". Lenovo achieved 6% growth in EMEA and double-digit shipment growth in Latin America.

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Apple finished the quarter in the fifth position with a year-over-year decline in shipments of 4.8%.

Dell came in third, with shipments rising 6.4 percent to 10.2 million and the market share lifting to 16.9 percent from 15.9 percent. Emerging markets were more of a mixed bag, as Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ) shrank for the quarter while Latin America continued to recover positively against a tough 2017.

PC shipments in EMEA totaled 18.6 million units in the first quarter of 2018, a 1.7 percent increase year over year. The PC market in China drove the decline in Asia/Pacific. "We're in that refreshing cycle [now] but further out it's back to decline". There is no significant sign of strong upgrading to the special version of Windows 10 from the Chinese government institutions. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner's PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program.

While smartphones have dramatically changed the PC market, the recent sales trajectory for them hasn't been positive either.

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