Optimism creeping back into PC market

Fourth quarter PC shipment figures from IDC and Gartner indicate that although still declining there is perhaps light at the end of the tunnel for the market

The PC market continued to decline in the fourth quarter but not as badly as had been predicted generating more optimism that the enterprise market is starting to spend on the technology again.

Numbers from both IDC and Gartner indicated that for the year the market as a whole dropped by 10% and in the fourth quarter the analyst houses saw drops of 5.6% and 6.9% respectively, but both had previously forecast worse declines.

IDC warned that conditions in EMEA remained challenging and outside of Japan most of the Asia-Pac region was also weak and Gartner commented that in the consumer market the main platform winner at Christmas had been the tablet rather than the desktop or laptop.

The main winner was Lenovo, which continues to gain market share on rivals with both of the large analyst houses saw it ahead of rivals HP and Dell, which has gained some share as a result of price cutting in the quarter.

"Although PC shipments continued to decline in the worldwide market in the fourth quarter, we increasingly believe markets, such as the U.S., have bottomed out as the adjustment to the installed base slows," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

"Strong growth in tablets continued to negatively impact PC growth in emerging markets. In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet. As a result, the adoption of PCs in emerging markets will be slower as consumers skip PCs for tablets," added Kitagawa.

Despite the ongoing decline in the market IDC indicated that things were improving and was even prepared to use the word 'growth' to describe what might happen over the course of the year ahead.

"The PC market again came in very close to expectations, but unfortunately failed to significantly change the trajectory of growth," said Loren Loverde, Vice President, Worldwide PC Trackers.

"Total shipments have now declined for seven consecutive quarters, and even the holiday shopping season was unable to inspire a turn in consumer spending. Although U.S. growth slipped a little in the fourth quarter, other regions all improved, reinforcing our view that growth rates will continue to improve gradually during 2014 despite remaining in negative territory," he added.

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