Will Apple Be Hurt by the Global PC Market Slowdown?

Global PC shipments declined by almost 11 percent in the second quarter of 2013, according to the latest statistics released by market research firm Gartner. The PC industry continues to die a slow death, as tablets increasingly replace desktops as the primary consumption device. This trend is especially apparent in emerging markets, where “inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC,” notes Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

Gartner has previously noted that the worldwide device market is increasingly being driven by sales of tablets, smartphones, and ultramobiles. This may help shield Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) from the declining PC market, since Apple’s iPad devices took a 39.6 percent share of the worldwide tablet market in the first quarter of 2013, according to the IDC.

China-based Lenovo led global PC shipments in the second quarter of 2013 with a 16.7 percent share, followed closely by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), with a 16.3 percent share. Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) took the number three spot, with an 11.8 percent share of the worldwide PC market.

Although some analysts cite Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) latest Windows operating system as a possible cause for the PC market’s decline, Kitagawa points out that Windows 8 “does not explain the sustained decline in PC shipments, nor does it explain Apple’s market performance.”

Source: Gartner.com

Although Apple did not rank in the top five for worldwide PC vendors, it was the third-ranked PC vendor in the U.S. market for the second quarter of 2013. Apple took an 11.6 percent share of the U.S. PC market with 1.74 million units shipped, a 4.3 percent decline from the second quarter of 2012.

Overall, the U.S. PC market did better than expected, thanks to “solid growth in the professional market.” Although U.S. PC shipments declined by 1.4 percent from the second quarter of 2012, the market actually expanded by 8.5 percent sequentially.

Gartner’s Kitagawa noted, “Three of the major professional PC suppliers, HP, Dell and Lenovo, all registered better than an average U.S. growth rate. The end of Windows XP support potentially drove the remaining PC refresh in the U.S. professional market.”

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White believes the PC market will continue to see uncertainty in the second half of 2013. However, he notes that only 12 percent of Apple’s sales are derived from the PC market. This leaves the Cupertino-based company less exposed to the market’s decline than either Dell or Hewlett-Packard. Dell and HP derive 48 percent and 29 percent of their sales from PCs, respectively. White maintains a “Buy” rating on Apple’s stock.

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