What’s the Deal, PC? Tablets Got Your Sales?

IDC and Gartner have released their quarterly trackers of PC shipments worldwide and in the U.S., and while both are mostly negative, there are some discrepancies between the two firms.

According to IDC, global PC shipments declined 13.9 percent year-on-year to 76.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013, nearly doubling the firms predicted decline. The deep slide is the worst recorded since the firm began tracking shipments in 1994.

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The overall numbers for the U.S. were similar to the global figure, as total shipments dropped 12.7 percent year-on-year, making for an 18.3 percent drop quarter-on-quarter. For most of the last 10 quarters, PC shipments have been declining year-on-year.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) managed to avoid some of the decline, as IDC showed the company’s U.S. shipments only dropping 7.5 percent, which allowed it to actually boost its market share from 9.4 percent to 10 percent. Apple remained in third place for U.S. PC vendors with 1.42 million units shipped…

HP (NYSE:HPQ) and Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), being the frontrunners of the U.S. market, were perhaps the hardest hit by the declines. Dell slipped 14.4 percent, with shipments dropping from 3.59 million to 3.07 million and its market share sagging slightly to 21.7 percent. HP took a major blow from its 22.9 percent decline, seeing its market share drop by 3.4 percent to 25.1 percent. HP’s shipments fell from 4.63 million units to 3.57 million units.

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Trailing at fifth, Lenovo actually managed to defy the trend in the U.S., seeing its shipments grow by 13 percent and its market share jump from 6.9 percent to 9 percent — putting it near a tie with Toshiba, which held fourth.

One bit of trouble comes from Gartner’s results for the same quarter, which don’t exactly match up with IDC’s, particularly in relation to Apple. Compared to IDC’s results, Gartner showed similar falls in shipments and market share for HP and Dell in the U.S. market. The figures on Toshiba and Lenovo were also a near match. The total global figure from Gartner showed an 11.2 percent decline to 79.2 million units…

However, Gartner shows Apple actually having a 7.4 percent growth in the quarter. It says sales jumped from 1.53 million in the first quarter of 2012 to 1.65 million in the same quarter in 2013, giving it an 11.6 percent market share and nearly 250,000 more unit shipments than IDC reported.

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Reasoning behind the global fall of PC shipments suggested that tablets, smartphones, and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8 might have been what did the damage. Tablets are proving able to directly compete with PCs, and could be dragging on PC sales — they are even expected to surpass PCs in shipments in the coming years. Smartphones are also giving consumers PC-alternatives for their computing needs. The problem with Windows 8 is that it’s unfamiliar, and many people aren’t ready to make the switch, especially considering its touchscreen optimization — consumers may see a need to have a touchscreen device in order to move on to Windows 8, and the prices of those devices might have them shying away.

Though the reports look good for Lenovo in the U.S. — and Gartner’s looks good for Apple as well — the worldwide trend is still downward, and there are no hints that the PC market might be able to slip out of that trend anytime soon.

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