A new study from research firm Gartner claims that the worldwide PC market is in decline, losing 8.6 percent from the same quarter a year ago. They say that consumers are shifting away from PCs to tablets and smartphones for their daily computing needs.
Gartner says that 80.3 million PCs were shipped globally in Q3, 2013, less than any other comparable quarter since 2008. This time of year usually coincides with a sales increase as parents and students purchase new laptops and PCs for school and college, but Gartner found that iOS and Android tablets are rapidly taking over as the go-to device for connected studying.
"Consumers' shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets," said Gartner's Mikako Kitagawa of the sixth consecutive market shrinkage. "A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets."
Big players in the PC space such as Lenovo, HP and Dell are doing well, according to Gartner: all saw an increase in unit sales and market share from the same quarter last year, with Lenovo continuing to be the number one global PC retailer.
"The positive U.S. results could mean that seasonal strength and channel fill for new product launches in 3Q13 finally overcame the structural decline." Ms. Kitagawa explained. "Even though 3Q13 shipments were compared with artificially weak 2Q13 because of inventory control for the Windows 8 launch at the time, the 3Q13 results imply the U.S. market may have passed the worst declining stage, which started in 2010. The shrinking installed base of PCs has also passed the steepest decline phase because the structural change has progressed fairly quickly. Tablets will continue to impact the PC market, but the U.S. PC market will see a more moderate decrease rather than a steep decline in the next two years."
While the U.S. market is inching upwards again, Gartner says that EMEA territories are in decline, dropping 13.7 percent of sales in the quarter. They attribute this drop to a new generation of processors and preparation for the launch of Windows 8.1.
"During the third quarter many vendors went through product transitions to Intel's new Haswell and Bay Trail processors, while preparing for the October launch of Windows 8.1," Gartner's Isabelle Durand posits. "These product transitions and the clearing of old inventory that is taking place through the third and fourth quarters of 2013, have played a part in the slowdown of the PC market in EMEA. Many PC vendors also introduced Android tablets as a main part of their portfolios and this initiative drove PC sales downward."
"Tablet PCs" art, © 2013, Shutterstock.com.