The demand for PCs appears to be waning amid rising hype over Tablet PCs.
According to Gartner’s preliminary results, the first quarter of 2011 has seen the first year on year decline in six quarters for PC sales, with worldwide shipments declining by 1.1 percent compared with a year ago.
Increasing consumer excitement over the Tablet PC form factor has been blamed for the PC’s lack of appeal, with worldwide shipments of PCs totalling 84.3 million units in the first quarter, well below Gartner’s predicted 3 percent growth for the quarter, according to the analyst.
Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst, attributed the decline to ‘weak demand for consumer PCs’ which he said was the biggest inhibitor of growth.
“Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers. Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics. With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs. We’re investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market.”
Meanwhile the professional PC sector experienced steady growth, driven by the replacement cycle, providing the only bright spot for the global PC market.
Without the professional segment growth, the PC market could have experienced one of the worst declines in its recent history, says Gartner.
Replacement sales are expected to generally continue into late 2011 or the start of 2012, with some variations between different regions and market segments.
Among manufacturers, Hewlett Packard maintained the number 1 position, but performed well below the worldwide average with 17.6 percent of worldwide PC shipments.
HP was impacted by weak consumer PC demand, as well as growing issues in the Asia Pacific region.
Acer continued to face challenges as the mini-notebook market was impacted by media tablets, and its shipments declined 12.2 percent.
Dell also experienced a shipment decline year-over-year for the first time in six quarters.
The company’s performance in the US, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Latin America was below expectations, but it achieved strong growth in the Asia Pacific market.
Lenovo experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors across all regions with 16.6 percent share globally due to competitive pricing in both the consumer and professional sectors.
However, PC shipments in Japan declined 13.1 percent in the first quarter of 2011, as the country faces the repercussions of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters. Shipments reached just 4 million units.
Analysts continue to investigate the impact of these disasters on the Japanese economy and its worldwide impact in the first quarter, but Gartner said the March 11 disaster affected the professional PC market most since the second half of March is usually the year’s busiest procurement period.