Worldwide PC shipments totalled 67,2-million units in the first quarter of 2009, a 6,5% decline compared to the first quarter 2008, according to preliminary results from Gartner.
"We are seeing some evidence of channel inventory restocking, particularly in the US," says George Shiffler, research director at Gartner. "This restocking should not be interpreted as a recovery in PC end-user demand; it's still unclear if the global PC market has hit the bottom."
Hewlett-Packard extended its lead in the worldwide PC market, accounting for 19,8% of global shipments in the first quarter of 2009. HP registered higher growth rates than the regional averages in the US, Asia/Pacific, and Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). HP's strength derived from its solid consumer PC portfolio, including low-priced mobile PCs.
Dell and Acer finished the quarter in a virtual tie for the number two position in the worldwide PC market, seperated by just 0.1%.
Dell was generally weighted down by its heavy reliance on the professional market, while Acer experienced a significant shipment increase fuelled by low-priced mobile PCs in EMEA and the US.
"Low-priced mobile PCs continued to be the growth driver for the PC industry in most regions," says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "However, we anticipate a sharp decline in industry revenues due to the lower average selling prices (ASPs) of these devices."
In EMEA, PC shipments reached 22,7-million units in the first quarter of 2009, a 10,2% decrease from the same period in 2008.
"The EMEA PC market in the first quarter of 2009 suffered its worst decline since 2001, showing a drop in double digits," says Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group in EMEA. "The market also experienced a 25 per cent decline quarter-over-quarter as a result of further reductions of channel inventory to lower levels of demand."
In the first quarter of 2009, all regions in the EMEA PC market exhibited weak or declining growth. In Western Europe, the three largest countries saw declining growth with growth in Germany and France showing low single digits and the UK experiencing the worst decline. Central Eastern Europe was particularly affected with Russia, Ukraine and Baltic countries shrinking by around 25%.
The Middle East and African markets were equally affected with Turkey continuing on its downward curve, and the previously unaffected United Arab Emirates and Kuwait markets now joining the downturn.
In addition, the slowdown impacted all parts of the market with professional market declining more sharply than the consumer market. The consumer mobile market only saw growth, with Toshiba and Acer among the few vendors to benefit.
Hewlett Packard maintained its number one position despite seeing a decline in its overall shipments. "Its sales distribution across all geographies and markets may now be working to its detriment as it is exposed to all areas of the declining market," says Atwal.
Dell showed the worst performance among the top five vendors as a result of its over exposure to the collectively weak UK desk-based and large account markets and saw its year-on-year performance decline 25%.
Acer continued to drive the rollout of the mini notebooks and mobile PCs and registered 20% year-over-year growth.
Toshiba regained the number four position from Asus as a result of its focus on consumer mobile but also because of Asus' inability to keep on increasing mini-notebook shipments.
"The only bright spot for the PC vendors in the first quarter of 2009 was for those shipping mini notebooks. With nearly 2,2-million mini notebooks shipped, they now represent more than 15% of the EMEA mobile PC market," says Atwal. "However we expect the level of cannibalisation of notebook PCs to have increased and predict that the PC market in EMEA in the second quarter of 2009 will decline by around 10% again and could even worsen in the second half of the year before we see a true recovery."
PC shipments in the US totalled 15,3-million units in the first quarter of 2009, a 0,3% decline from the first quarter of 2008. Shipments were stronger than expected thanks to strong growth in low-priced mobile PCs.
"Low priced mobile PCs led market growth in the US. Mini-notebooks did well in the challenging economic environment where consumers' number one priority was to save money," says Kitagawa. "Mini-notebooks continued to put pressure on low priced mobile PCs. This pressure was mainly felt in the consumer market, but it expanded into select professional markets as well, including the education segment.
"US mobile PC ASP likely will decline as much as 20% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2009. Overall, end user spending on PCs is likely to have contracted in the upper teens in the first quarter of 2009 compared to a year ago."
HP was the number one vendor in the US, accounting for 21% of PC shipments in the first quarter of 2009, taking the top position in the US market for the first time since 2001.
Dell was severely challenged by tough competition in the retail space. This, combined with the weak US professional market, dropped Dell into the number two position in the overall US market.
Acer's strong growth was fuelled by low-priced mobile PCs, its solid presence in the retail space, as well as in channels.
Analysts think that Apple's relatively higher ASP created challenges for it in the tough economy, but that its deft control of inventories limited its shipment decline.