PC Not Dead After All? Marginal Rise Seen in Global Sales

The growing range of smartphone options, as well as the increase in their capabilities has steadily eaten into the sales of personal computers. However, this trend may be slowly changing, according to a new report from research firm Gartner who found that global PC shipments grew one percentage point on a year-on-year basis, which is the first rise since 2012.

A closer analysis of the report reveals some interesting trends. The region with the highest growth rate was the US, where PC sales in the fourth quarter of 2014 increased approximately 13.1% mainly due to rapid purchases during the festive season. The best-selling category were inexpensive laptops and light notebooks, which can be attributed to rising interest in the Google Chromebook series that are trying to disrupt the traditional model of PCs.

Inexpensive laptops and light notebooks drove the bulk of the growth rate in PCs

There was also growth in the European and Middle Eastern markets in the last quarter of 2014, with approximately 3% more sales than the same period last year. Again, inexpensive laptops dominated sales as consumers preferred to stay away from higher ticket items. “Buyers are delaying PC purchases if they do not see a specific need, therefore making the consumer market more lackluster than it used to be,” wrote Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

Lenovo continued to be the market leader in PC sales, with approximately 19.4% share followed by HP with 18.8% and Dell with 12.7% respectively.

Growth in Tablet PC Sales Eases

After a 52.5% rise in sales of tablet PCs in 2013, the market for the product only grew by 7.2% in 2014 which analysts attribute to sales life-cycles. iPad shipments dropped 12.7% from the previous year but retained its position as the largest brand in the industry. Tablets based on Google’s Android operating system continued to dominate with 68% of the market.

Tablet sales in 2014 slowed down, mostly due to lack of significant advancements and better than expected device life-cycles

Earlier analysts had expected consumers to replace their tablet computers every 2-3 years, but it is apparent that the life-cycle for these products has exceeded expectations with most users retaining their devices for 4 years or longer. Also, technology for tablets has not expanded fast enough to give consumers a reason to purchase newer models which is also hurting the industry. More interest in the Windows platform, which currently only accounts for a dismal 5% of total tablet sales, can help drive growth in the sector.

  • Small correction: Gartner PC shipment reports do not include Chromebooks. Gartner doesn’t count Chromebooks as “PCs”. It does however include Windows based tablets and 2-in-1 convertibles.

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