Global PC shipments fall to lowest quarterly level since 2007

A US Customs and Border Protection officer inspects boxes of Dell Inc. computer monitors at the Calexico East Port of Entry in California.
A US Customs and Border Protection officer inspects boxes of Dell Inc. computer monitors at the Calexico East Port of Entry in California. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - Worldwide personal-computer shipments have slid to their lowest quarterly total since 2007, signalling another challenging year ahead for an industry staggered by a sluggish economy and changing consumer tastes.

Dell dethroned HP as the top PC seller in the US for the first quarter - something that hasn't happened this decade, according to market researcher Gartner Inc.

Dell's focus on business customers and HP's refusal to chase business with just low prices switched the top two players.

Globally, shipments dropped 9.6 per cent in the period, the sixth consecutive decline. IDC reported similar worldwide results.

PC makers, which have already weathered four straight years of falling shipments, remain under pressure as potential customers delay - or skip - purchases of desktops and laptops, opting for increasingly powerful smartphones. Even developing markets, including Brazil and Russia, are failing to create demand, as the economy and the strong US dollar hamper sales, Gartner said.

"Because of the economy issues and other issues it doesn't look like those people who purchased smartphones are going to buy any other devices any time soon," said Ms Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

Manufacturers shipped 64.8 million machines in the period compared with about 71.7 million a year earlier, Gartner said on Monday in a statement. US shipments declined 6.6 per cent to 13.1 million.

Lenovo Group retained its hold on the top spot in the global market with 19.3 per cent of first-quarter shipments, even as sales fell 7.2 per cent from the year-earlier period. Apple was No. 5 with 7.1 per cent - up from 6.4 per cent a year earlier.

In the US, Dell claimed 26.3 per cent of the market while HP had 23.7 per cent. Dell is benefiting from its focus on business customers, who are more likely to increase purchases of PCs, Ms Kitagawa said. The company jumped into the top spot for the first time since 2008.

Microsoft's new Windows 10 operating system has been slow to jump-start growth of new machines as the company offers free upgrades to existing customers. The industry is hoping the new software - with its slick touch-screens and other features - will help stave off declines during the rest of the year.

Manufacturers also should benefit from comparisons with 2015 sales that were buffeted by currency headwinds, Ms Kitagawa said.