The growth in global PC shipments continued to slow in the fourth quarter due to a softening consumer market as well as competition from Apple's iPad and other web tablets, reported Gartner and IDC Thursday. Their respective worldwide PC shipment estimates for the fourth quarter were 92.1 million and 93.5 million units, with year-over-year growth pegged at 3.1 percent and 2.7 percent.
"Overall, holiday PC sales were weak in many key regions due to the intensifying competition in consumer spending," noted Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Media tablets, such as the iPad, and other consumer electronic devices, such as game consoles, all competed against PCs."
Waning Netbook Sales
Neither Gartner nor IDC include tablet shipments in their quarterly reports on worldwide PC sales, but both do include mini-notebooks as part of the overall mix. Both reports highlight competition from media tablets without observing that Apple's iPad accounted for the lion's share of tablet sales last year -- 89 percent, according to Piper Jaffray. As a result, neither report underlines the fact that Apple's iPad sales have made the company one of the world's top five makers of computing products.
Piper Jaffray "is modeling for Apple to sell 5.5 million iPads and 4.2 million Macs" in the fourth quarter, said analyst Andrew Murphy. In other words, Apple's combined 9.7 million unit shipments, if correct, would exceed the 9.5 million PC unit shipments posted by the world's fourth-largest PC maker Lenovo in the final quarter of 2010.
Apple's iPad launch was a brilliant competitive move given that the company's tablet shipments are clearly hurting the sales of major computing rivals. According to IDC, Hewlett-Packard and Acer suffered from sagging mini-notebook sales at the end of last year -- due in major part to escalating consumer interest in Apple's iPad.
Slowing sales of mini-notebook PCs and consumer purchases contributed to a year-over-year decline of 5.3 percent at global PC market leader HP, IDC analysts observed. Number-three Acer was also affected by lackluster netbook sales.
"Consumer fatigue is playing an important role in many markets as the mini-notebook surge wanes and consumers watch their spending and evaluate other products," said IDC research analyst Jay Chou.
Mac Growth Tops U.S. Market
PC shipments in the U.S. market totaled 19.1 million units in the fourth quarter -- a 6.6 percent decline compared to the same period in 2009, according to Gartner. "Mini-notebook shipments were hit the most by the success of media tablets," which "do not replace primary PCs, but they are viewed as good-enough devices for those who want to have a second and third connected device for content-consumption usage," Kitagawa said.
U.S. consumers are being more cautious with their purchases, and competing devices have been vying for consumer dollars, noted IDC Research Director David Daoud. "This situation is likely to persist in 2011, if not worsen, as a wave of media tablets could put a dent in the traditional PC market," he said.
Though HP continued to lead the U.S. PC market with a 29.3 percent share of fourth-quarter shipments, according to Gartner, Toshiba and Apple were the only PC vendors among the top five to post positive year-over-year growth. Even without counting iPad sales, Apple's Mac shipments led the field with 23.7 percent growth, according to Kitagawa.
Gartner's worldwide Mac shipment estimate is around 4.17 million units for the fourth quarter, Kitagawa observed. "Based on the estimate, Apple's 2009/2010 unit growth is 30.4 percent," she said.
For all of 2010, the results indicate the PC market recovered from the recession as it returned to double-digit growth, compared to low single-digit growth in 2009, Kitagawa observed. "However, the PC market will face challenges going forward with more intensified competition among consumer spending," she added.
Image credit: iStock/Artist's concept.
Posted: 2011-01-13 @ 12:05pm PT
I think people are so tired of Windows that Microsoft will be a memory in 20 years.