Q1 PC shipments beat projections, but still lowest in six years
First quarter sees snapback from strong, XP-driven 2014
Worldwide PC shipments stood at 68.5m units in the first quarter of 2015, a year-on-year decline of 6.7% and the lowest level in six years, but slightly better than projections, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).
The research firm reported Q1 findings from its Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, noting that the downturn followed a "strong second half of 2014", driven by upgrades from Windows XP, for which Microsoft had discontinued support.
In contrast, the Q1 climate included "multiple headwinds", including overstock of Windows Bing notebooks; a natural lull in the wake of the XP refresh; and pressure in some territories from currency fluctuations and "unfavourable economic indicators".
Q1 shipments were the lowest since Q1 2009.
"Despite the decline, PC shipments in the United States declined at a slower rate than all other regions in first quarter, outperforming worldwide trends for the 11th consecutive quarter," said Rajani Singh, senior research analyst, Personal Computing, IDC.
"The strength from key vendors, adoption of emerging products, improvements in the consumer market and in the broader economy are all positive signals. The upcoming launch of Windows 10 will consolidate the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. In addition to the free upgrade for consumers for a year after the release, Windows 10 should be a net positive as there is pent-up demand for replacements of older PCs. Only part of the installed base needs to replace systems to keep the overall growth rate above zero for rest of the year."
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"Although shipments did exceed an already cautious forecast, the market unfortunately remains heavily dependent on pricing being a major driver, with entry SKU volume masking a still tenuous demand for higher-priced systems that is needed to sustain a more diverse PC ecosystem," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst, Worldwide PC Trackers, IDC. "Pricing pressure is bringing many premium SKUs into formerly mid-level pricing tiers. As more vendors find it increasingly difficult to compete, we can expect additional consolidation in the PC market."
Shipments of personal computers in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) contracted in the first quarter, as vendors focused on depleting attractively priced Bing inventory built up during the gift-giving quarter.
"The end of Bing promotions on 15-inch notebooks, unfavourable currency exchange rates and consequently an increase in prices of components, all led to a rise of average selling prices and decline in PC shipments," IDC said in a statement.
In vendor breakdown, IDC said Lenovo retained the market-leader position with 13.4m units, representing growth of 3.4%. HP was still second in the table, shipping nearly 13m units and managing growth above 3%.
Lenovo's and HP's growth came at the expense of rivals. Dell remained number three, but its 9.2m units signalled a year-on-year decline of 6.3%, the company's first shrinkage since Q2 2013. A strong Q1 2014 in the US and EMEA also contributed to the size of the company's decline.
The top five was rounded out by Acer and Asus.