IDC and Gartner: Q3 2013 PC shipments not as bad as predicted, but still bad

Lenovo, the world's biggest PC maker, will release a number of new Windows 8.1 products this fall like the ThinkPad Yoga.

This week's hardware shipment numbers for the third quarter of 2013 may not been as bad as some in the PC industry had predicted, but it was still mostly bad news. The research firms of IDC and Gartner revealed that worldwide shipments of PCs went down during the July-September time period, which marks the sixth straight quarter of declines.

IDC stated that the total number of PC shipments came in at 81.6 million units for the last quarter, down 7.6 percent from the same period a year ago. That number is actually better than the 9.5 percent decline that IDC had previously predicted would happen during the last three months. It added, "While shipments remained weak during the early part of the quarter, the market was somewhat buoyed by business purchases, as well as channel intake of Windows 8.1-based systems during September."

Gartner claimed that its own PC shipment numbers showed 80.3 million units were sent out worldwide in the third quarter, down 8.6 percent from a year ago. Gartner's assessment was more bleak than IDC's, stating that "... sales this quarter dropped to their lowest volume since 2008."

Lenovo is still the world's largest PC maker, according to both research firms, followed by HP and Dell. All three companies experienced a small amount of unit sales growth during the quarter while the fourth and fifth biggest PC makers, Acer and Asus, got hit with huge declines in sales.

As for fourth quarter 2013 PC shipment predictions, IDC says they have "hopes for a small increase" but they think that will be "followed by a challenging 2014."

Source: IDC and Gartner | Image via Lenovo

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Mostly businesses buying, who blow away the pre-installed (and counted as sold) Windows 8 and put their windows 7 SOE on it. Consumers aren't interested in Windows 8.

No doubt about the fact that PC shipments will continue to fall. Windows, PCs, and laptops exist in a different world now, and there's naught wrong with that IMO. Diversity is great.

Yes, there is big doubt about that. Durable goods run in cycles. You can keep a PC a long time now but eventually it's going to break. Sales are only down from the huge jump five or so years ago.

This is just the continued correction in the market. PC sales will continue to fall as more general users switch to tablets and smartphones for their basic computing needs.

Eventually, pc sales should flatten out as tablet sales saturate the market. The enterprise market will continue to buy pcs and that group will remain steady throughout this transition. Its still pretty early in this change.

The main "problem" is that people are happy with their PC, and most they are not buy a new PC in years (if not a decade).

Tablet will fad eventually.

Now that virtually every new laptop model being released has a touch screen and more and more models have 1920x1080 resolution displays, I'm also thinking that the average price of a PC has gone up as well. Higher prices alone would be enough to explain a drop in sales.

If you look at the sales numbers, it's ASUS and Acer that have dropped considerably in market share. Both of these companies have gone hot and heavy into Ultrabooks, and Acer, especially, has really worked hard to shed its image as a purveyor of cheap, plastic laptops. When you go from selling sub-$400 laptops to $1200+ Aspire S7s, you can expect that the overall number of PCs that you sell to drop-off dramatically.

Sure, they can expect to make a higher profit margin per unit, but often times the higher margin isn't enough to offset the drop in units sold. The target market for a $400 notebook is probably at least a magnitude greater than the target market for a $1200 notebook, but the profit margin on the high-end notebook isn't going to be correspondingly greater than the margin on a $400 notebook.

Right now, every OEM in the PC market is trying to emulate Apple, but they must have forgotten that the vast majority of Apple's profits come from iPhone and iPad sales and not from Mac/MacBook sales.

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