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By 12 July 2012 | Categories: news

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In the second quarter of this year, the worldwide PC market has had to endure its growth stalling, while ultrabooks have not produced the rise in volumes that were expected, according to the International Data Corporation.

In its latest report, the global market intelligence provider explained that part of the reason for slow sales was “disappointing sell-out of distribution channels” during the first quarter of the year.

The limited demand apparently comes from channels that are wary of building inventory ahead of new product launches in the months ahead.

PC procrastination

Similarly, general users remained reluctant about purchasing PCs in an environment of tech transition and soft economics. David Daoud, a research director in Personal Computing at IDC, elaborated that consumers are delaying purchases, and vendors and retailers are slowing down their PC activities to clear existing inventories.

“The situation is exacerbated by consumer notebook saturation, a slowing replacement cycle in the commercial sector, and the big macro-economic and political events affecting confidence and spending," he added.

The most notable surprise in the report though, is that ultrabooks  - the supposed darlings of the mobile world – aren’t doing as well as expected. In part, the imminent launch of Windows 8 in October has led users to adopt a wait and see attitude with regards to ultrabooks.
 
Presumably, this indicates that general users are waiting for newer devices that take advantage of the new operating system.
 
“The announcement of a Windows 8 launch date, as well as broader communication of new features in the OS, are key steps that would help to address uncertainty about new product availability and help consumers and channels plan their purchases," elaborated Jay Chou, senior research analyst, Worldwide PC Tracker.
 
The price is wrong
 
However, no less significant in the PC stay-away is the ever-important issue of pricing. According to the IDC, constrained demand in Europe and the US has also been felt in emerging markets for some time, but the second quarter brought another milestone of sorts as Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) showed flat year-on-year growth  ?  its worst performance in years.
 
"These latest results validate IDC's expectation that the second quarter would be a transition period where both economic factors and anticipation for new products in the second half of the year would result in relatively low PC shipment growth," explained Chou.
 
The IDC further detailed the worldwide PC shipments this year so far as experienced by manufacturers. Despite its restructuring and attempts to reinvent itself, HP secured itself a spot in first place, followed by Lenovo, Dell, Acer and Asus.
 
More specifically:
  • HP remained the top vendor but saw shipments decline significantly across regions. The vendor continues to face pressure from its reorganisation efforts and slow market conditions in addition to managing channels as they adapt to market changes.
  • Lenovo remained in second place, but narrowed the gap between itself and HP considerably. While Lenovo continued to grow much faster than the market, it too experienced slower growth than in recent quarters.
  • Dell also faced a tough quarter, slipping below 10 million units a quarter for the first time since the second quarter of 2009. The vendor saw share declines across regions as it focuses on profitability and commercial sales.
  • Acer was able to stabilise shipments for another quarter - staying just ahead of the market. The company saw a recovery in Europe as it rebounded from inventory issues a year ago, but also felt the impact of slowing demand in other regions.
  • Asus continued to gain ground at a rapid pace with strong growth across regions. The vendor has most of its volume in EMEA and Asia/Pacific, but is expanding channels and gaining share in other regions as well.
To the point
 
In short, the PC market appears to be going through a transition of its own. This is not necessarily a bad thing in our view, because if the IDC is correct, the next few months may be what is needed to pave the way for a new generation of exciting devices.

Hopefully, this will reinvigorate PC’s for the year ahead, particularly as notebooks, with the exception of the MacBook Pro with Retina display and one or two offerings from Samsung and HP, haven’t really been catching our attention much of late. 

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