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October 9, 2014

Tablet saturation stalls PC shipments slump

Slight growth in Europe and US help slow decline.

By Ben Sullivan

The global PC market underwent a slight recovery in the third quarter of 2014 after shipments in Europe, Middle East and Africa experienced a 9.1% increase from the same period last year.

Preliminary sales reports from Gartner said that PC shipments in EMEA totaled 24 million units in the third quarter of 2014, the third quarter in a row it has recorded growth.

In the US market, PC shipments totaled 16.6 million units in Q3, a 4.2% increase from the same period last year. Again, this was the third quarter in a row that the US market has seen growth.

Overall, PC shipments underwent a 0.5% decline compared to the third quarter of 2013, shifting 79.4 million units.

Ranjit Atwal, research director at Garter, said: "The continued growth in the EMEA PC market reflects the end of official support for Windows XP and the need to replace older PCs.

"Consumer demand has also improved. We’ve witnessed lower notebook prices and promotional offers on two-in-one hybrid devices attracting buyers back. Many tablet early-adopters are considering a hybrid two-in-one product as a viable alternative to a replacement tablet."

Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, points the finger at peak tablet adoption for the minor revival. She said: "Consumers’ attention is slowly going back to PC purchases as tablet adoption peaked with mainstream consumers.

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"The transition from PCs to tablets has faded as tablet penetration has reached the 40-50 percent range." In contrast, weakness in the emerging market reflects the saturation in selected consumer segments where they can afford PCs. In the meantime, consumers who don’t have PCs will likely buy low priced tablet. This is a one of the major reasons for the slow growth in PC shipments in the emerging market."

Gartner said that Lenovo extended its position as the worldwide leader in PC shipments, as it accounted for 19.8% of the market in the third quarter of 2014. Lenovo did especially well in EMEA as it achieved more than 40% growth over the third quarter last year. It also had year-over-year growth in Asia/Pacific, despite the region showing a decline overall.

HP retained the top position overall in EMEA due to better results in the professional PC segment, but the gap is tightening between HP and Lenovo. HP shipped 5,041,710 PCs in Q3 2014, compared to Lenovo’s 4,659,985. Lenovo recorded a 45 percent increase in shipments year-on-year.

Gartner’s data includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including x86 tablets equipped with Windows 8, but excludes Chromebooks and other tablets.

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