Truly, few (if any) analysts expected the PC market to show signs of a recovery in America, but that's what happened. The U.S. market showed strong 6.9 percent year-on-year growth in the second quarter of 2014.
Continuing upgrades of Windows XP systems boosted shipments in commercial portables and desktops, helping the commercial segment of the market. At the same time, retail acceptance of emerging product categories helped the consumer segment to somewhat stabilize.
Global Quarterly Results and Industry Outlook
Worldwide PC shipments totaled 74.4 million units in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14), a year-on-year decline of -1.7 percent, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). The results reflect the smallest decline in global PC shipments since the second quarter of 2012 when declining shipments of mini notebooks combined with a surge in media tablet sales to disrupt the PC market.
Buoyed by both continued business PC replacements and returning consumer interest in low-cost notebooks, the preliminary results for 2Q14 are markedly better than the projected decline of -7.1 percent for the quarter.
On a geographic basis, Europe, the United States, and Canada showed the strongest growth, reflecting more stable conditions. Japan would have joined list but for the dramatic surge last quarter and new taxes that limited second quarter growth.
In contrast, emerging regions continue to see declining PC volumes as weaker economies and political issues combine to depress growth.
"The recent strength in mature regions is a positive sign," said Loren Loverde, Vice President at IDC. "However, an important part of this strength is driven by the rebound from weaker demand last year and to potentially short-term replacement activity. We do not see the recent gains as a motive to raise the long-term outlook although 2014 growth could get closer to flat, rather than the May projection of -6 percent."
The PC industry remains intensely competitive, with factors such as economy of scale and channel reach continuing to add to the shift toward mobility and new designs in driving market consolidation. While the top 5 PC vendors grew 9.8 percent year on year in 2Q14, the rest of the market declined -18.5 percent on the year.
One encouraging factor was a good intake of lower-end systems, including Chromebooks, which coincides with the recent slowing in tablet growth -- and perhaps signals the beginning of some longer-term stabilization on the consumer side.
Moving forward, strong sales in the back-to-school season and healthy consumer sales in the holiday season should keep the U.S. PC market in positive territory for the rest of the year.