Personal computer market continues to slump

A Hewlett-Packard computer in Washington, DC.
A Hewlett-Packard computer in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Worldwide shipments of personal computers continued to slump in the recently ended quarter but showed signs of stabilising, according to figures released on Wednesday (July 12) by market trackers.

Preliminary estimates released by Gartner indicate that 61.1 million PCs were shipped in the second quarter of this year (2017) in a 4.3 per cent decline from the same period a year earlier.

An IDC Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computer Device Tracker report put the figure at 60.5 million in a year-over-year decline of 3.3 per cent.

Higher prices due to tight supplies of some components, particularly solid state drives, were felt to be among factors that hampered sales.

Gartner maintained that the PC industry is in the midst of a 5-year slump, and said 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," IDC research manager Jay Chou said in a release.

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

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

Factors hitting PC sales include 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 6 per cent, Gartner reported.

"The Chromebook is not a PC replacement as of now, but it could be potentially 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 it needs to have more offline capability." Both market trackers ranked HP as the top computer seller, saying its sales have grown despite the shrinking market.

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