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​Channel stability ahead as volatile conditions hamper depressed PC market

​Channel stability ahead as volatile conditions hamper depressed PC market

"The PC market continues to contract as expected, but we remain optimistic about future shipments."

Worldwide PC shipments totalled nearly 71.0 million units in the third quarter of 2015 (3Q15), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

This volume represented a year-on-year decline of -10.8 percent - slightly worse than projections for a decline of -9.2 percent.

According to the analyst firm, the lacklustre volume of PC shipments was consistent with expectations that the third quarter would face challenging financial conditions and be a transition period.

Across many regions, the channel remained focused on clearing Windows 8 inventory before a more complete portfolio of models incorporating Windows 10 and Intel Skylake processors comes on the scene.

Vendors and channels were also working to limit price swings in the face of changes in currency exchange rates.

Though easing a bit, currency devaluation continued to inhibit PC shipments in the third quarter.

While Windows 10 has generally received favourable reviews and raised consumer interest in PCs, many users opted to upgrade existing PCs rather than purchase new hardware.

In addition, the unusually short time between Windows RTM (release to manufacturing) and the official retail release hampered the ability of OEMs to launch certified new models, resulting in a limited selection of Windows 10 PCs (as well as related advertising) through much of the third quarter.

Although the overall market continued to see double-digit declines, and even the top vendors saw shipments decline from a year ago, the top 4 vendors performed much better than the rest of the market.

Collectively, the top four vendors saw shipments fall by -4.5 percent from a year ago compared to a decline of almost -20 percent for the rest of the market.

The advantages of scale, concentration on portable PCs, deeper penetration of distribution channels in emerging regions, as well as smaller vendors exiting the market are all aiding the largest vendors.

"The PC market continues to contract as expected, but we remain optimistic about future shipments,” says Jay Chou, Research Manager, IDC Worldwide PC Tracker.

“While PC shipments will be hampered in the short run by the availability of a free upgrade to Windows 10, the improved PC experience across user segments should drive longer-term demand for new PC hardware that is expected help stabilise the market in 2016 and beyond.”

The U.S. PC market continued to suffer from soft demand in both the consumer and commercial segments.

The July launch of Windows 10 had an immediate suppressive impact as many consumers took advantage of the free upgrade.

In commercial, IT budgets remained focused on other projects including mobile-readiness and digital transformation initiatives.

“Still, there is some hope in the fourth quarter,” adds Linn Huang, Research Director, Devices & Displays, IDC.

“New designs running Windows 10 and powered by Intel's new Skylake processors are coming to market and may represent the most compelling reason we've had in years for consumers to upgrade their PCs.

“Whether this compulsion translates into actual sales remains to be seen.”

Vendors

Lenovo remained the number 1 vendor with 14.9 million units shipped, a decline of -4.9 percent compared to a year ago.

Flattening performance in Asia/Pacific and lacklustre volume elsewhere were offset by a strong quarter in the US, where the vendor continues to aggressively expand partnerships.

HP remained at number 2 with shipments declining -5.5 percent from a year ago but still outperforming the market - HP also benefited from a stabilising US market.

Dell at number 3 shipped more than 10 million units, registering a year-over-year decline of -2.9 percent.

Strong results in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) and a flat market in the US helped to offset a relatively slow EMEA market - Notebook volume also was decent.

Apple continued to outperform other vendors, moving to number 3 in the United States and boosting share globally as well as domestically.

Acer continued in the top 5, but saw shipments decline significantly from a strong third quarter performance a year ago as its largest regions, EMEA and Asia/Pacific, continued to see overall declines.

Asia/Pacific

Regionally speaking, across Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), volume was close to expectations this quarter.

The market was softer compared to the previous year due to currency impact on the region and clearing of channel inventory as the main priority for many countries.

Some big projects were postponed, including an education project in India. The commercial market was soft and was generally supported by government projects in many countries.

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