An optimistic new report from Gartner suggests that the PC market may actually be returning to growth, with most of the sales going to top-name vendors.
By Gartner's estimates, worldwide PC shipments were essentially flat for the second quarter of 2014, growing just 0.1 per cent when compared to the same period a year ago. But even that is encouraging, the analyst firm points out, because shipments have declined for the last eight consecutive quarters.
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And while shipments by no-name vendors were down 13.8 per cent, year-on-year, many of the biggest branded PC vendors actually saw significant growth.
Lenovo, already the top-selling PC maker worldwide, managed to ship 14.5 million units in the second quarter, up from 12.6 million units in the year-ago period. As a result, the Chinese tech giant's market share grew from 16.7 per cent in 2013 to 19.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2014.
But Lenovo wasn't alone. HP, Dell, and Asus all also managed to increase both their shares of the market and their total shipments in the quarter.
HP, in particular, remains a strong challenger to Lenovo, having shipped 13.4 million PCs in the second quarter – a 9.3 per cent increase from a year ago.
There was one trouble spot among the brand-name PC vendors, though. Acer saw its shipments shrink by 7 per cent, year-on-year, causing its market share to drop from 8.5 per cent in 2013 to just 7.9 per cent this year.
The Taiwanese firm is still struggling to recover from the collapse of the market for netbooks and low-end laptops, which had been its bread and butter as recently as 2010. But despite new CEO Jason Chen's best efforts, Gartner's latest numbers show Acer's troubles are not yet behind it.
Neither are those of the other PC makers, however, because the second-quarter growth in PC shipments wasn't consistent across every region. As Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa observed, although sales in developed markets have begun to stabilize – driven in part by the Windows XP upgrade march – sales in emerging markets declined once again.
"The PC industry in emerging markets has been impacted by the allure of low-cost tablets," Kitagawa said, echoing an oft-repeated refrain. "These low-cost tablets continue to take spending from new PC units, meaning that it will take more time for PC sales to stabilize in emerging markets."
Nonetheless, Kitagawa said, the emergence of new kinds of PCs – including affordable thin-and-light laptops and touch-enabled PCs – has led to a trickle of new customers entering the market.
"PCs are now growing off a smaller installed base of newer devices, with more engaged users," Kitagawa wrote. "Therefore, we expect to see slow, but consistent, PC growth." Fingers crossed. ®