Tablets put PC market in decline

Shipment decline

The PC market has taken a hit this month, with analyst firms blaming the rise of tablets for the decline.

IDC and Gartner both released reports today claiming shipments had fallen globally, with the former citing a 3.2 per cent drop and the latter offering a more modest 1.1 per cent year-on-year.

Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said the PC market may have gone through "one of the worst declines in its recent history" and held up tablets as the culprit.

"Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers," she said. "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."

However, IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell didn't blame Apple and its rivals entirely.

"Slower than expected commercial growth in the first quarter failed to offset the ongoing challenges in the consumer market," he said.

"While it's tempting to blame the decline completely on the growth of media tablets, we believe other factors, including extended PC lifetimes and the lack of compelling new PC experiences, played equally significant roles."

In Europe, the decline was felt strongly, with businesses "remaining cautious" in investing in new desktop hardware.

IDC and Gartner also claimed the recall of Sandy Bridge products had an effect on the market place as, although it was only in small volumes, it delayed orders and "contributed to some of the additional disruption."

"The PC market in EMEA had not exhibited decline since the third quarter of 2009 when the market declined 8.9 per cent," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

"The excess inventory accumulated at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010 was reduced slowly, especially as some of the delayed Sandy Bridge products entered the market in March. The seasonal trend was also weaker than expected, indicating that the downward trend seen at the end of 2010 continued into the first quarter of 2011."

Both analyst firms said HP remained the market leader in PCs, but Gartner claimed its growth had fallen by 3.4 per cent. IDC's figures reported the decline as 2.8 per cent.

However, Lenovo and Toshiba both saw substantial growth in the difficult quarter. The former rose by around 16.5 per cent, according to both analyst firms, and the latter grew by 5.3 per cent according to Gartner or 3.8 per cent according to IDC.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.