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PC sales fall for fifth consecutive quarter, marks longest duration of decline

PCsNew data from research firm Gartner suggests the slide in the global PC market shows no sign of abating, with its figures indicating a decline in shipments for the fifth consecutive quarter – “the longest duration of decline in the PC market’s history”, Gartner says.

Gartner’s research, which showed that worldwide PC shipments fell by 10.9 percent to 76 million units in the second quarter of this year, was backed up by data from IDC for the same period, which put the figure slightly higher at 11.4 percent.

Gartner points to the popularity of budget-price tablets over low-end PCs as the cause of the decline. While IDC also highlights the burgeoning tablet market, it also claims the slow transition to touch-based systems running Windows 8 is a factor. Gartner, however, disputes this, saying it doesn’t explain the sustained decline in PC sales or the decline in Apple’s PC sales.

“We are seeing the PC market reduction directly tied to the shrinking installed base of PCs, as inexpensive tablets displace the low-end machines used primarily for consumption in mature and developed markets,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC. This is also accounting for the collapse of the mini notebook market.”

Gartner said PC sales had declined in all regions of the world compared to a year ago. Also, the top five PC vendors showed a year-on-year decline in shipments during the second quarter.

Top of the table – though only just – is Lenovo, with second quarter shipments of 12.7 million, marking a decline of 0.6 percent on the same period a year earlier. HP shipped 12.4 million PCs in the second quarter, representing a fall of 4.8 percent.

Some way behind the top two is Dell, with 9 million shipments, indicating a 3.9 percent fall on the same quarter a year ago.

While the PC market hasn’t completely caved in just yet, the ongoing decline is forcing PC manufacturers to explore other possibilities for revenue streams. For example, Sam Burd, Dell’s global vice-president of personal computing, said in an interview last week that his company is looking into the potential of wearable tech and “exploring ideas in that space”.

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