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World PC Market Continues To Struggle As Sales Fall 10 Percent In 2013

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Reports from Gartner and IDC both paint a bleak picture

Sales of personal computers (PCs) fell by as much as 10 percent last year worldwide, according to research firms Gartner and IDC. Both firms recorded a widespread decline in PC sales as consumers increasingly turned to tablet and mobile devices.

The fourth quarter is normally a healthy buying time for PCs and laptops, but Gartner reported that sales 6.9 percent fell to 82.6 million units worldwide in the last quarter of 2013 cmopared to the fourth quarter of 2012. This marked the seventh consecutive quarter of shipment decline, and signalled the end of what Gartner called, “the worst decline in market history”.

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An extremely competitive year amongst manufacturers saw Lenovo finish 2013 as the top PC manufacturer, accounting for 18.1 percent of all shipments worldwide, up from a 15.8 percent market share last year. This was largely due to a strong fourth quarter, where it edged out competitor Hewlett-Packard (who were responsible for 16.4 percent of total sales), to take top spot.

As it did in 2012, Dell ended the year in third position, accounting for 11.8 percent of the market, with Acer and Asus’s fourth and fifth-placed rankings also remaining unchanged compared with a year ago.

“Although PC shipments continued to decline in the worldwide market in the fourth quarter, we increasingly believe markets, such as the US, have bottomed out as the adjustment to the installed base slows,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. The report noted that 2013 sales were equal to those seen in 2009, showing the declining appeal of traditional PCs for consumers.

“Strong growth in tablets continued to negatively impact PC growth in emerging markets. In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet. As a result, the adoption of PCs in emerging markets will be slower as consumers skip PCs for tablets.”

For 2014, Gartner estimates sales of 318 million PCs and two-in-one devices, essentially unchanged from 2013 sales. The firm also recently announced it believed IT spending would grow in 2014, as expenditure on technology outgrows inflation.

IDC said world-wide PC shipments fell 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter, marginally better than the 6 percent drop it had forecast, and declined by 10 percent over the year, with the firm recording sales of 314.6 million units. It predicts that lower costing thin and light products such as Chromebooks will be the difference in 2014, and should help the market return to health.

“The PC market again came in very close to expectations, but unfortunately failed to significantly change the trajectory of growth,” said Loren Loverde, a vice-president at IDC.  “Total shipments have now declined for seven consecutive quarters, and even the holiday shopping season was unable to inspire a turn in consumer spending.”

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