Worldwide personal computer (PC) shipments totaled 68.5 million units in the first quarter of 2015 (1Q15) -- that's a year-on-year decline of -6.7 percent, according to the latest global market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).
Following a strong second half of 2014, the PC market in the first quarter of this year faced multiple headwinds -- including inventory build-up of Windows Bing based notebooks, commercial slow down following the Windows XP refresh and constrained demand in many regions due to unfavorable economic conditions.
As a result, growth and volume declined with Q1 2015 shipments below 69 million units -- that's the lowest recorded volume since Q1 2009.
"Despite the decline, PC shipment in the United States declined at a slower rate than all other regions in first quarter, outperforming worldwide trends for the eleventh consecutive quarter. The strength from key vendors, adoption of emerging products, improvements in the consumer market and in the broader economy are all positive signals," said Rajani Singh, senior research analyst at IDC.
Although shipments did exceed an already cautious forecast, IDC Believes that the market remains heavily dependent on lower pricing, with entry SKU volume leading the demand in most markets.
The adoption of low-cost, open-source, Linux-based Google Chromebooks continues to set the precedent for affordable personal computing -- in the notebook PC category -- both within the consumer and enterprise segments of the market. The shift to Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud storage has helped to fuel this pervasive trend.
Expensive high-performance PC models require heavy discounts and other promotions to reduce inventory, as consumers and commercial buyers look for bargains. Moreover, the savvy mainstream buyer tends to wait for the next round of new Microsoft Windows PC product introductions, then purchase the equally-capable prior models from the over-stocked retail inventory at a lower price.
Regional highlights from the study include:
United States – with shipments totaling 14.2 million PCs in 1Q 2015, the U.S. market shrank -1.0 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Growth was centered around emerging product categories -- such as Chromebooks and Convertibles. Desktop shipments were also relatively sluggish this quarter.
Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) – shipments of personal computers in EMEA contracted in the first quarter of 2015. The end of Windows PC promotions and unfavorable currency exchange rates led to a rise of average selling prices and a corresponding decline in PC shipments.
Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) – volume was close to expectations, as scaled-back IT spending due to the ongoing currency fluctuation impacted countries in the region. Outside of the Lunar New Year effect, China was also impacted by excess commercial notebook PC inventory from earlier quarters.
Japan – volume declined -44 percent from a year ago. A strong Q1 2014 was significantly bolstered by commercial projects and consumer buy-in before a tax-hike, which set the stage for very difficult year-over-year comparisons. A weak Yen further dampened purchasing across segments.