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Global PC shipments exceed forecast

Apple slightly outshines Asus to take number-five spot, IDC says

Market research, IT Business, International Data Corporation

Worldwide PC shipments totalled 78.5m units in the third quarter of 2014, a year-on-year decline of 1.7%, but a sizable improvement over the forecast 4.1% drop, according to figures released by the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

Many of the trends from the second quarter remained relevant and contributed to the Q3 2014 results, the research firm said. Commercial PC purchases played a key role in many markets, with the top three vendors - Lenovo, HP, and Dell - all showing solid year-on-year growth.

Shipments of entry-level systems, including Chromebooks, continued to inject an important source of volume and sustained improved consumer demand in some markets over recent quarters. But mature markets still drove overall results, with North America and parts of Europe seeing significant improvements across segments. Although Windows XP migrations have slowed, an improved business outlook, tablet saturation in some markets, and expanded offerings of competitive notebooks have influenced recent positive trends.

Emerging regions as a whole proved disappointing, although stronger-than-expected consumer demand in Asia-Pacific, spurred by the continued expansion of entry-level portable PCs, provided a silver lining.

"Although shipments did not decline as much as feared, these preliminary results still show that Q3 2014 was one of the weaker calendar third quarters on record in terms of sequential growth," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst, Worldwide PC Trackers, IDC.

"The third quarter has historically been driven by back-to-school sales and renewed business purchasing, which were weaker than normal this year. 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."

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The PC market in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) saw another positive quarter with preparations for holiday sales fuelling growth in shipments. Windows 8.1 with Bing notebooks contributed to higher sell-in numbers on portable PCs, particularly in the consumer space. Although demand related to the end of Windows XP support started to disappear, commercial shipments remained stable. Markets in Western Europe continued to drive the overall growth in EMEA, while shipments in the CEMA region remained constrained by economic and political instability.

Lenovo held a comfortable lead as the top PC supplier, hitting another record volume of 15.7m units. The vendor managed to regain growth in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) as well as maintain its strong pace of expansion and growth in EMEA.

HP shipped 14.7m units and remained in the number-two position with growth surpassing 5%. EMEA and mature markets continued to be the vendor's primary sources of growth, as were some last-minute public sector notebook shipments.

Dell shipped over 10m units, growing 9.7%, year on year, much of it based on a strong performance in notebooks in the US and Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan).

Acer grew over 11%, in part due to low volume a year ago, but also from the success of its Chromebooks and entry-level notebooks.

Apple moved into the number-five position on a worldwide basis, slightly overtaking ASUS. The company's steady growth, along with recent price cuts and improved demand in mature markets, has helped it to consistently outgrow the market.