Global PC market continues to slump

Shoppers checking out The PC Show at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre last month. PC shipments worldwide are down for the 11th quarter in a row, according to Gartner data.
Shoppers checking out The PC Show at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre last month. PC shipments worldwide are down for the 11th quarter in a row, according to Gartner data.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Parts shortage bumps up prices; sales also hit by Chromebooks

SAN FRANCISCO • Worldwide shipments of personal computers (PCs) continued to slump in the recently ended quarter, but showed signs of stabilising, according to figures released on Wednesday by market trackers.

Preliminary estimates released by Gartner indicated that 61.1 million PCs were shipped in the second quarter of this year, down 4.3 per cent from levels achieved for the same period a year earlier.

A report by the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computer Device Tracker put the figure at 60.5 million, for a year-on-year decline of 3.3 per cent.

Higher prices stemming from tight supplies of some components, particularly solid-state drives, were felt to be among the factors that had hampered sales.

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Gartner maintained that the PC industry is in the midst of a five-year slump, and said that the latest figures represent an 11th straight quarter of declining shipments.

"Amid some unevenness in market trends across the regions, the global PC market has continued to trend towards stabilisation," said IDC research manager Jay Chou in a release.

"Despite recent issues wrought by component shortages and their effect on system prices, we expect that the momentum of commercial market replacements will contribute to eventual market growth."

He expected consumer demand for PCs to remain under pressure, but saw potential boosts from the growing popularity of powerful computers for game play and sleek new Windows machines.

Factors hurting PC sales included growing demand for Google-backed Chromebook laptops that essentially act as gateways to services and computing power hosted in the Internet cloud, according to Gartner.

Worldwide Chromebook sales grew by 38 per cent last year, while the overall PC market shrank by 6 per cent, reported Gartner.

"The Chromebook is not a PC replacement as of now, but it could be transformed as a PC replacement if a few conditions are met going forward," said Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

"For example, infrastructure of general connectivity needs to improve; mobile data connectivity needs to become more affordable; and the Chromebook needs to have more offline capability," she noted.

Both market trackers ranked HP as the top computer seller, saying the company's sales had grown despite the shrinking market.

HP was followed by Lenovo, Dell and Apple, in that order.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'Global PC market continues to slump'. Print Edition | Subscribe