Worldwide PC shipments totalled 61,7-million units in the first quarter of 2018, a 1,4% decline from the first quarter of 2017, according to preliminary results by Gartner.
The PC market experienced a 14th consecutive quarter of decline, dating back to the second quarter of 2012.

Asia/Pacific and the US experienced declining shipments, while other regions saw some minimal growth, but it was not enough to drive overall growth for the PC industry. In the first quarter of 2018, PC shipments in Asia/Pacific declined 3,9% compared with the same period last year, while shipments in the US decreased 2,9%.

“The major contributor to the decline came from China, where unit shipments declined 5,7% year over year,” says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “This was driven by China’s business market, where some state-owned and large enterprises postponed new purchases or upgrades, awaiting new policies and officials’ reassignments after the session of the National People’s Congress in early March.

“In the first quarter of 2018, there was some inventory carryover from the fourth quarter of 2017,” Kitagawa adds. “At the same time, vendors were cautious in overstocking due to the upcoming release of new models in the second quarter of 2018 with Intel’s new eighth-generation core processors.”

The top three vendors – HP, Lenovo and Dell – accounted for 56,9% of global PC shipments in the first quarter of 2018, compared with 54,5% of shipments in the first quarter of 2017. Dell experienced the strongest growth rate among the top six vendors worldwide, as its shipments increased 6,5%.

HP Inc’s worldwide PC shipments increased 2,8% in the first quarter of 2018 versus the same period last year. In EMEA, HP Inc recorded double-digit growth in both desktop and mobile PCs. This was contrasted with a small decline in other regions. HP Inc. was adversely impacted by declining demand in the US, which generally accounts for one-third of its total shipments.

Lenovo’s global PC shipments remained flat in the first quarter of 2018. Lenovo achieved 6% growth in EMEA and double-digit shipment growth in Latin America. However, in Asia/Pacific (its largest market), PC shipments declined 4%.

After record holiday sales for consumer and gaming products in the fourth quarter of 2017, Dell continued to perform well in the first quarter of 2018. With double-digit shipment increases in EMEA, North America and Latin America, Dell grew in all regions except Asia/Pacific. Desktop and mobile PCs grew in equal measures, showing Dell’s strength in the business segment.

The average selling prices (ASPs) of PCs continue to rise. Acknowledging deceleration in the smartphone market, and uncertainty in PC replacement demand, component companies remain cautious about expanding their production capabilities. Therefore, persistent component shortages and a rising bill of materials continue to create an environment conductive to higher prices.

“In contrast to other DRAM-related price spikes, PC vendors are not reacting by reducing DRAM content. Rather they have passed the cost increase to consumers,” says Kitagawa. “With fewer people buying new machines, manufacturers need to get the highest profit margin from each sale. To do that, they are raising the selling points and focusing on customer experience or perception of value.”