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Now even China's PC market is shrinking

Record PC sales declines across Asia and Gartner says Windows 8 won't turn things around

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Just when you thought the outlook for the PC industry couldn’t get any more gloomy, shipments in APAC declined in the last quarter by 2.6 per cent from the previous year. Even China stopped buying PCs, posting its first ever year-on-year loss of 5.4 per cent, according to Gartner.

The analyst’s latest report for Q2 can be read in a slightly more positive light as it only covers desktops and notebooks, therefore not including the growth areas of smartphones and tablets.

The stats are nonetheless sobering for a region which has until recently been used to fairly decent growth.

Gartner said both mobile PC and desk-based PC shipments declined, by 3.7 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively. The enterprise market contracted by eight per cent as firms deferred purchases, while the consumer segment offered some hope with three per cent growth compared to Q2 2011.

The biggest losers nationally were Singapore (-21.5 per cent), Korea (-11.9 per cent) and Australia (-9.2 per cent), while India and Malaysia were the two stand-out winners, experiencing strong growth of 17 per cent and 21.6 per cent respectively.

Gartner placed the blame for the poor figures on the knock-on effect of “gloomy worldwide economies” as well as increased consumer interest in smartphones and tablets, as opposed to desktops and laptops.

It added that PC penetration is high in mature markets and major cities in emerging markets, leaving just the smaller cities and rural areas offering opportunities for growth.

China’s 5.4 per cent decline will be a particularly big blow, given the size and historical health of the market there.

Gartner principal analyst, Eileen He, told The Reg that not even the next wave of Ultrabooks or the launch of Windows 8 is likely to dispel the short term gloom in the region, with macro-economic factors having the biggest impact on buying habits going forward.

“Mainstream Ultrabook models will come into market in Q3-Q4, and currently, OEM brands and upstream technology providers like Intel are lacking proper marketing communication to users on what the difference is between Ultrabook and regular mobile PCs. Therefore, we don’t foresee Ultrabooks will be a critical driver this year, but they could be next year,” she added.

“As to Windows 8, as a new OS, it’s hard to boost new requirements to a great level in 2013, because users buy devices on applications, content and design more than configuration and OS. Enterprises may have big volume demand on replacement, but it will not happen during the next two years.”

For the record, Lenovo maintained its number one spot with a healthy growth in shipments of 12.6 per cent, with Acer and Dell rounding out the top three.

The only other vendor in the top five to hit positive growth was Asus, which recorded stellar growth of 24.8 per cent from Q2 2011. ®

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