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PC Shipments Decrease in Q3

Worldwide PC shipments declined in the third quarter, according to analyses published this week by IDC and Gartner Inc.

IDC reported preliminary results showing that 78.5 million PC units had shipped worldwide in the quarter, down 1.7 percent from Q3 last year. Gartner had a somewhat similar assessment, saying that 79.4 million PC units were shipped, representing a year-over-year decrease of 0.5 percent.

The two research and consulting firms differed in terms of what they considered a PC to be. For IDC, a PC includes "desktops, portables, ultraslim notebooks, Chromebooks and workstations," excluding tablets. Gartner defines a PC as desktop or mobile devices, "including x86 tablets equipped with Windows 8, but excludes Chromebooks and other tablets."

IDC attributed the shipment decline to a weak back-to-school sales season, as well as weak PC refreshes by businesses. Lower priced systems are helping the volume of PC sales but they may negatively affect PC makers in the long term, according to Jay Chou, senior research analyst for IDC's Worldwide PC Trackers.

"The current growth of lower-priced systems, while encouraging in the short run, brings concern for the long term viability of vendors to adequately remain in the PC space," Chou said, in a released statement.

Gartner seemed to concur with effects of low-cost devices on PC vendors, noting that "some vendors have already scaled back or have withdrawn from the PC business -- namely, Sony and Samsung -- and Toshiba joined them in 3Q14," according to Gartner's announcement.

The top five vendors worldwide included Lenovo (20 percent), HP (18.8 percent), Dell (13.3 percent), Acer (8.4 percent) and Apple (6.3 percent), according to IDC (see chart). Apple moved up to the No. 5 position, edging out ASUS, partly based on its recent price cuts, IDC indicated. Gartner offered a similar ranking of the top PC vendors globally, although it showed ASUS at the No. 5 position instead of Apple.

The two research firms mostly agreed about the top rankings of U.S. PC vendors. HP, Dell, Apple, Lenovo and Acer topped the U.S. list for Q3, according to IDC. Gartner, though, saw Toshiba as occupying the No. 5 position.

Gartner indicated that HP's recent announcement of plans to split the company into two businesses likely would not have a significant effect on HP's PC business operations. Similarly, Dell's decision to go private has not diminished its commitment to building PCs, it noted.

Gartner sees the consumer tablet market as 40 percent to 50 percent saturated, which may turn consumer interest back more toward PCs.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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