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PC shipments continue to decline

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Worldwide PC shipments totalled 60,6-million units in the first quarter of 2016 (1Q16), a year-on-year decline of 11,5%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

Shipments were in line with conservative expectations for a decline of 11.3%, and anticipated a relatively weak environment during the first half of 2016 as Windows 10 enterprise upgrades largely remained in pilot phase while consumer demand remains weak. The volatility in stocks, commodities and currencies also helped depress shipments.

Inventory reductions in the channel, which were a headwind through much of 2015, seem to be wrapping up. Similarly, some rebound in economic conditions should support both commercial and consumer activity going forward.

Nevertheless, channels, vendors, and users remain cautious about new purchases. Overall, Asia/Pacific and EMEA performed slightly better than forecast, while the Americas pulled down worldwide results.

“In the short term, the PC market must still grapple with limited consumer interest and competition from other infrastructure upgrades in the commercial market,” says Jay Chou, research director at IDC Worldwide PC Tracker, “Nevertheless, IDC still projects total business IT spending to grow compared to 2015, and as we head toward the end of 2016 things should start picking up in terms of Windows 10 pilots turning into actual PC purchases.”

PC shipments to the US fell 5,8% to 13,6-million units in 1Q16. PC channels remained challenged with aging inventory although inventory churn has reportedly improved throughout the last two quarters.

Market inhibitors that were present in 4Q15 lingered through 1Q16. These issues included softened demand due to global economic concerns, the Windows 10 free upgrade path stalling some consumer PC purchases, and increased attrition towards detachables.

“Demand for PCs in the U.S. remains sluggish,” says IDC research director: devices and displays, Linn Huang. “However, we should be entering a period of reprieve. Peak corporate and education buying seasons have historically started in the second quarter. With some IT buyers thinking about early Windows 10 transitions and with the potential continued ascent of Chromebooks, the PC market should experience a modest rebound in the coming months.”

In the US, Dell overtook HP Inc. for the first place ranking for the first time since the third quarter of 2009, ending a run of 25 consecutive quarters with HP Inc at the top of the US PC market. Dell’s US PC shipments rose 4,2% year over year to 3,48-million – good for a 25,6% share. HP Inc’s PC shipments to the US fell 14,1% to 3,44-million units (25,3% share). Lenovo continued its aggressive growth trajectory as its 1,9-million units shipped represented 21,1% year-over-year growth and accounted for 14,1% of total US PC shipments. Apple’s Mac shipments rose 5,6% year over year to nearly 1,8-million (13 % market share). Acer’s shipments fell 10,4% to 0,7-million, but the company overtook ASUS and Toshiba to regain a seat in the US top five.

EMEA PC shipments declined double-digit year over year, which was in line with the forecast. 1Q16 was the last quarter to suffer from an unfavourable year-over-year comparison due to large Bing shipments in the prior year, which significantly affected the consumer market. Windows 10 had a limited impact on PC renewals as its rapid adoption came mostly from free software upgrades. The new products launched with Windows 10 and Skylake architecture supported sales growth but could not reverse the overall negative trend.

Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) PC market continued to decline as end user demand remained soft, while vendors focused on inventory clearing. Economic uncertainty weighed on the overall market performance across the region, with businesses limiting their investments and many commercial projects being postponed or downsized, while consumer spending was dampened by currency fluctuations and increases in pricing.

In Japan, the market performed slightly better than forecast but still had negative growth. Slowing economic outlook and continued uncertainty over currency rates further dampened demand.

Lenovo maintained its top global rank for the quarter with US growth in excess of 20%. However, the company faced a challenging quarter in all other markets with international shipments declining 12,5% from the prior year, bringing total worldwide volume down 8,5% from a year ago.

HP Inc remained the number two vendor as it navigated its separation from HP Enterprise during the quarter. The company struggled with some inventory issues in North America and a continued slow market in Latin America, with total worldwide shipments declining nearly 11% from the prior year.

Dell remained the number three vendor globally, outperforming the market with a decline of just 2%, and also pulled to the lead in the US market. Strong shipments of notebook PCs helped the vendor achieve the best quarter among the top five vendors.

Apple took the fourth spot worldwide and continued to outperform the market, thanks to solid growth in North America.

Asus declined 8,3% from a year ago and dropped to the number five position. North America still saw decent uptake, but the vendor faced challenges elsewhere, especially EMEA.