FRAMINGHAM, MA – The worldwide market for traditional PCs, inclusive of desktops, notebooks, and workstations, declined 3% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019, says International Data Corp. Global shipments were above expectations, reaching 58.5 million during the quarter.
Although the shortage of Intel processors, mostly at the lower end, remained a factor in seeing a contraction in the first quarter, the market performed better than expected, with most regions exceeding the forecast. Stronger than expected desktop shipments further boosted volume, coming on the heels of a tough previous quarter, which had lackluster consumer demand and desktop supply issues, says IDC. Furthermore, more PC brands turned to AMD chips. All of this, combined with firms rounding the last corner on its Windows 10 migration deployments, led to a shift in the market for traditional PCs toward more commercial and premium products.
"Desktop PCs were surprisingly resilient, as the commercial segment helped drive a refresh during the quarter," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. "Capitalizing on this refresh cycle, the top vendors – HP, Lenovo, and Dell – each increased their year-over-year volume and captured additional share in the desktop PC market."
"The US market saw year-over-year volumes decline in notebooks as consumer demand softened during the quarter, offsetting the modest gains we saw in desktops," said Tom Mainelli, group vice president for Devices at IDC. "Among the top US PC vendors, only Lenovo saw notebook growth from the same quarter a year ago. It represents a tough start to an important year, as the industry marches toward the end of life for Microsoft's Windows 7."
The traditional PC market in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ) posted a single-digit decline, close to IDC's forecast. Adverse economic conditions, weak consumer demand, and component shortages all had a negative impact on sell-in across the region. The market in India posted a decline on the back of further softness in consumer demand and channel overstock, while elections contributed to a delay in commercial projects. Meanwhile, China came in above expectations, as vendors pushed more inventory into the channels despite macroeconomic woes and trade tensions with the US.
The traditional PC market in Canada continues to exceed expectations, and some of this is driven by improvement in the commercial segment. As a result, retail distribution has eroded somewhat, and purchasing has slowly shifted to more commercial-friendly channels, such as dealers, value-added resellers, and system integrators.
For Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), the traditional PC market came in negative in the first quarter, its second decline in a row after five quarters of growth. Softness was evident primarily in notebooks as component shortages continued to inhibit available supplies to meet market demand.
In Japan, with the end of support for Windows 7 on the horizon, commercial shipments accelerated, and the segment beat previous expectations. However, the consumer segment continued to struggle due to extended replacement cycles and higher smartphone usage.
Despite unfavorable macroeconomic conditions in major economies such as Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina during the first quarter, Latin America’s PC shipments were better than expected. The overall Latin America market declined in the single digits versus the previous forecast of a 13% decline.
In the US, Intel CPU shortages continued to pose a production bottleneck for PC makers, making it difficult to meet new demand, especially from the business side as the Windows 10 migration continues. Notebooks were particularly hard hit, as inventory overhang from the previous quarter, coupled with lower consumer interest in new PCs, restrained unit volume growth.
Despite a year-over-year decline of 0.8%, H-P managed to regain the top position, with 13.6 million traditional PCs shipped during the quarter. Japan was a particularly strong market for the company, as it managed to record high double-digit growth during the quarter, largely due to the end of support for Windows 7.
Lenovo slipped into second place after two quarters in the top position. However, on a global basis the company has maintained a consistent growth trajectory over the course of the past year. During the recent quarter, mature markets such as North America and Japan served as strongholds for the company.
Dell Technologies was in third place and managed to experience the strongest growth during the quarter. Similar to HP and Lenovo, Dell was able to capture a larger share of the desktop market. The vendor had sizable growth in Japan and Western Europe.
Apple saw a slight decline during the quarter, with 4.1 million units shipped. Though the company refreshed some of its notebooks recently, the latest models have not been met with the greatest fanfare, as reviews point to hardware issues that may affect sales in the coming months.
Acer Group rounded out the top five, with 6.1% market share during the quarter. Like many others, Acer was challenged by Intel's shortages, though the company was able to sidestep the issue in a few cases by incorporating older CPUs from Intel into its Chromebooks. Both Chrome and gaming remain a focus for the company, though the company struggles to maintain traction elsewhere.