PC Outlook Improves As Consumer Spending Stabilizes

Posted by at 5:24 am on July 16, 2009

As in the first quarter of 2009, global PC shipments again came in slightly ahead of expectations in the second quarter (2Q09), lessening fears over the extent of the PC market slump. Worldwide PC shipments (including Desktop and Portable PCs, but excluding x86 Servers) were down 3.1% from the second quarter of 2008 -“ a notable improvement over an expected decline of 6.3%, according to IDC‘s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. All regions either met or surpassed expectations. Although the global downturn is still making its effects felt in the PC industry, the slump has been mitigated by a PC market which has seen the computing experience evolve to be more personal, portable, and cost-oriented rather than performance-driven. Portable PCs continue to be the primary driver of volume and growth with all regions seeing strong Portable shipments.

“These results are a very positive indicator for the second half of the year,” said Loren Loverde, program director for IDC’s Tracker Program. “We are seeing continued demand from consumers and limited impact from supply chain factors such as inventory balancing. New product launches in the second half of the year combined with seasonal growth and greater economic confidence resulting from factors such as government stimulus, a more liquid housing market, relatively stable stock market and interest rates, and progress in the auto and financial industries, should support the expected return to growth by year-end.”

While the market has outperformed expectations for a second consecutive quarter, the lack of commercial activity remains a drag on growth. The commercial segment remains more conservative with spending, focusing on other priorities and preserving cash. As a result, the segment has not been as motivated by falling prices and new portable designs as the consumer segment.

“Despite continued contraction from a year ago, the U.S. market managed a better-than-average sequential performance -“ an indication of a stabilizing or improving market. While the sequential growth may be a hint of recovery, the market’s focus on lower-price PCs and Mini Notebooks is likely to drag the value of the market to lower levels,” says Bob O’Donnell, vice president, Clients and Displays. “The market continues to rely on consumer purchases, with a substantial weakness in the commercial space. We expect to see more of the same as we enter the busy shopping season of the second half of the year. In the longer term, an expected recovery in the commercial segment should boost growth in 2011.”

Regional Outlook

  • United States -“ The U.S. PC market declined by 3% year over year in the second quarter, matching forecasts for the market. Ongoing healthy volume through Retail spurred Portables to exceed forecasts, but that was offset by Commercial sluggishness and Desktop volume below expectations. Dell regained its lead by a small margin, but remains hampered by slow commercial spending.
  • Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) -“ In line with IDC’s forecast, the EMEA PC market continued to contract for the second consecutive quarter. The Portable PC market performed ahead of expectations, maintaining single-digit positive growth, thanks to continued uptake of mini notebooks in the consumer segment and additional momentum generated by the telco channel. But whilst the consumer market held up well, spending in the commercial segment remained constrained across all form factors.
  • Japan -“ Shipments declined slower than expected in the second quarter, with year-over-year growth improving notably from the first quarter. Nevertheless the Japanese market continues to be plagued by tepid Commercial activity and a Consumer market shifting towards lower cost Portables, which has benefited non-Japanese OEMs with a clear focus on Mini Notebook PCs.
  • Asia/Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) -“ PC shipments exceeded forecasts, fueled by very strong Portables growth, particularly in Southeast Asia. China was a bright spot in the region, while India came in close to expectations. Shipment growth returned to positive territory after several quarters of declining volume.

IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker gathers PC market data in more than 80 countries by vendor, form factor, brand, processor brand and speed, sales channel and user segment. The research includes historical and forecast trend analysis as well as price band and installed base data.

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