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Global PC Market Decline Persists Despite Back-to-School Season

The worldwide PC market showed no signs of an upswing in the third quarter, according to two separate reports from IDC and Gartner.

IDC and Gartner estimate that third quarter global PC shipments decreased year-over-year by 7.6 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively. These preliminary estimates were based on total global PC shipments of around 80 million devices in Q3. Both firms defined PCs as being desktops and mobile computers, but not Apple iPads.

The Q3 decline in PC shipments follows the drop in Q2, with analysts pointing to the phenomenon of tablets displacing PCs in the marketplace as one reason for the downward trend. IDC originally projected a year-over-year PC shipment decline of 9.5 percent for Q3, so the 7.6 percent decrease it found was considered a better-than-expected result.

Q3 marks the traditional back-to-school sales period of computing devices. However, the PC volume was off, according to Gartner's assessment.

"The third quarter is often referred to as the 'back-to-school' quarter for PC sales, and sales this quarter dropped to their lowest volume since 2008," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a released statement.

The PC dropoff particularly affected device manufacturers that have focused on the consumer market, such as Acer and Asus, although both companies are shifting their product lines more toward hybrid devices and tablets.

In terms of worldwide shipments, Lenovo was the top PC vendor, followed closely by Hewlett-Packard, with Dell taking third place (see chart below). In the U.S. market, the top PC vendors were HP, Dell and Apple, followed by Lenovo and Toshiba.

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U.S. PC shipments for the quarter were either down 0.2 percent (IDC) or up 3.5 percent (Gartner).

"The United States outperformed many other regions as growth stabilized just under 0%," said Rajani Singh, senior research analyst for personal computers at IDC, in a released statement. "Continuing upgrades from Windows XP boosted shipments, particularly in the commercial desktop segment, while retail acceptance of new and emerging product categories, such as Chromebooks and Ultraslims, helped the portables segment."

Still, Singh said that not much has changed in the U.S. market and that it could see some further challenges in 2014.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.