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Global PC market's not dead, it's just resting – Gartner

Rival beancounter IDC not so sure

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The PC market never really died, it was just resting – at least according to our man at Gartner, who leaned on the latest global sales data to prove there’s some life left yet in the form factor.

According to preliminary stats, sales into channels grew one per cent in Q4 to 83.7 million boxes as retailers and disties took delivery of more stock in anticipation of a mini return to consumer spending.

Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, said the impact of tablets is “lessoning” amid high levels of penetration.

“The PC market never died,” he told us, “but it shrank to a smaller size of users that are perhaps more engaged”.

Atwal said lower priced Bing with Windows PCs tapped into the budgets of cost conscious punters, remarking, “This was good for consumers but not so good for the vendors”.

The US market led the PC shipment recovery, with sales up 13.1 per cent to 18.1 million units, units were up in EMEA by 2.8 per cent to 26.5m and two per cent in Asia Pacific to 26.6m.

Lenovo maintained its lead at the top, with sales up 7.5 per cent to 16.28 million PCs, taking market share to 19.4 per cent. But it was challenged in Q4 by HP’s growth of 16 per cent and market share of 18.8 per cent. For the year, Lenovo extended its lead at the top.

The exit of the Sony and Samsung brands from the PC market benefited the major players, Gartner said.

Despite the relatively more positive end to the year, 2014 remained challenging for PC makers. Gartner reckons the sector declined 0.2 per cent to 315.8 million machines.

Over at IDC, the beancounters are a little less positive about Q4 growth, pegging sales at 80.8 million units, which equates to a decline of 2.4 per cent. For the year, shipments of 308.6 million indicates the market shrank 2.1 per cent from 2013.

Similar dynamics are at play, the firm said, with mature tech economies still recovering, more goodness coming from Asia Pacific and greater activity in terms of PC product development.

“Growth of Chrome, Bing, all-in-ones, ultraslim, convertibles, and tough systems similarly make PCs more compelling and competitive,” said Lauren Loverde, IDC veep of the PC tracker.

But she warned that 2015 would not see a repeat of the XP support issue, and the deflationary affects of Bing and Chrome on PC average sales prices “cast a shadow of doubt on the strength of the market going into 2015”.

So it seems IDC is less convinced about the PC market's prospects for growth. ®

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