Global personal computer sales continue to be weak in a marketplace that favors other devices -- such as smartphones and media tablets. Worldwide PC shipments totaled 76.6 million units in the first quarter of 2014 -- that's a 1.7 percent decline from the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest market study by Gartner.
"The end of XP support by Microsoft on April 8 has played a role in the easing decline of PC shipments," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.
Among key countries, Japan was greatly affected by the end of XP support, registering a 35 percent year-over-year increase in PC shipments. The growth was also boosted by sales tax change.
The PC market continued to be tough for many vendors. Economies of scale matter tremendously in this high-volume, low-profit market, which is forcing some vendors -- such as Sony -- out of the market.
Lenovo experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors. Its shipments grew 10.9 percent, and they extended their position as the worldwide leader. The company's shipments grew in all regions except Asia-Pacific, where growth in China it has been problematic.
Overall, the China market again slowed, in part due to the long holiday in the middle of the quarter.
The share difference between Dell and HP once again narrowed compared to last quarter. In the first quarter of 2014, HP achieved its fastest shipment growth of the last two years. HP’s shipment growth in EMEA well exceeded the regional average, which improved HP’s overall growth.
Dell maintained a strong position in the market. Since the completion of the leverage buyout last year, Dell has been aggressively expanding its PC business throughout the regions. The first quarter of 2014 was the third consecutive quarter of PC shipment growth for Dell, registering its highest growth since the fourth quarter of 2011.
In the U.S. market, PC shipments totaled 14.1 million units in the first quarter of 2014, a 2.1 percent increase from the same period last year. HP maintained the No. 1 position, as it accounted for 25 percent of PC shipments in the U.S. market. Dell and Lenovo experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors, with growth rates of 13.2 and 16.8 percent.
The EMEA PC market saw positive growth after eight quarters of decline. Shipments in EMEA totaled 22.9 million units in the first quarter of 2014, a 0.3 percent increase from the same period last year. Improvements were driven by a PC refresh in the professional market from both the XP effect, and a general increase in professional spending.
In the Asia-Pacific market, PC shipments reached 24.9 million units in the first quarter of 2014, a 10.8 percent decline from the first quarter of 2013. Pressure on traditional notebooks continued as the installed base transitioned to alternative devices and replaced only on an as-needed basis.
New hybrid ultramobiles with lower price points were available, but demand remained slow as buyers evaluated usage scenarios and application availability amid a market with many other options that make expensive ultrabooks seem like low-value for the money.