The tidings look grim on the PC front. Despite a surge in sales from the first quarter to the second in 2011 (maybe due to Witcher 2's awesomeness?), the total number of units moved have plummeted over the past year. Some manufacturers have managed to grab sunbeams between all the rain, though. A new report reveals that the ranks of the top five computer manufacturers have undergone a serious shift as some scramble for ground that others have given up.
Market research outfit International Data Corporation (IDC) on Wednesday published global PC shipment numbers for the second quarter of 2011. According to the research firm, the U.S. PC market continued its downward spiral even as the global market showed signs of recovery during the quarter.
We've heard that the sky is falling in the PC market so many times that we've quit looking up. The truth of the matter is that no matter how popular tablets become and how much gaming consoles transform themselves into true media centers, the PC market is alive, well, and even thriving. This much was confirmed yet again, this time by research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), which is predicting a rebound of sorts in 2012.
The world's gone mobile folks, and don't worry about choosing sides between tablet PCs and eBook readers. Recent data suggests the two segments can coexist just fine, thank you very much. Not only that, but both sectors are growing at an explosive rate. Pretty exciting stuff considering one represents an emerging market (tablets) and the other is just now coming into its own with lighter, faster devices (eReaders).
Worldwide PC processor shipments fell flat year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2010, yet still managed double digit growth for the full year, according to the latest figures from International Data Corporation (IDC). The research firm reports that microprocessor shipments grew 17.1 percent for the full year compared to 2009, driving revenue up 26.7 percent to $36.3 billion. It did this despite a lethargic fourth quarter that barely budged compared to both 3Q10 (0.04 percent quarter-over-quarter) and to 4Q09 (-.21 percent year-over-year).
The latest global PC shipment numbers from Gartner and IDC have probably confirmed recent fears that tablets (effectively the iPad for now) are eating into secondary PC sales. Gartner expects media tablets to get even more ravenous as time goes on. The market research firm has forecast that media tablet sales will touch 19.5 million in 2010.
Next year might be 2011 according to the Gregorian calendar, and the year of the Rabbit as per the Chinese, but it’d truly be the year of the media tablet if Gartner’s sales forecast is proved correct. It expects tablet sales “to total 54.8 million units in 2011, up 181 percent from 2010.”
“Mini notebooks will suffer from the strongest cannibalization threat as media tablet average selling prices drop below $300 over the next 2 years,” Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, is quoted as saying in a Gartner release.
“The all-in-one nature of media tablets will result in the cannibalization of other consumer electronics devices such as e-readers, gaming devices and media player.”
Maybe the tech recession is finally over, or perhaps it just couldn't get any worse. Either way, worldwide PC processor shipments and revenues climbed by 3.6 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, in the second quarter of 2010, according to market research firm IDC.
"Such a sequential increase in PC processor shipments alone would have been enough to conclude that the first half was strong for the market," said Shane Rau director of Semiconductors: Personal Computing research at IDC. "However, a modest rise in revenues, too, points directly to a rise in ASPs. System makers bought more and higher-priced PC processors in the second quarter than in the first. Digging a little deeper into the numbers shows that they bought more mobile processors and more server processors, while desktop processors remained flat."
As the IDC reports it, the desktop sector continued to struggle with a 0.1 percent decline on quarter. Mobile PC processor shipments, on the other hand, rose by 6.5 percent, while the server market saw a 6.1 percent rise on quarter.
Another key part of IDC's prognosis is SaaS share of the total software market:“By 2012, IDC expects that less than 15% of net-new software firms coming to market will ship a packaged product (on CD). By 2014, about 34% of all new business software purchases will be consumed via SaaS, and SaaS delivery will constitute about 14.5% of worldwide software spending across all primary markets.”
Nope, the PC still isn't dead. But don't just take our word for it, market research firm IDC, which spends its time tracking these sort of things, indicated that the PC market grew by 22.4 percent in the second quarter of 2010 despite lingering concerns over the economy.
"The PC market remains robust, and in a recovery phase, despite challenges to a broader economic recovery, such as slow job growth and a more conservative outlook in Europe and Asia Pacific," said Jay Chou, research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. "The factors which led to the recent PC rebound, an aging commercial installed base, a proliferation of low-cost media-centric PCs, and low PC penetration through much of the world, remain key drivers going forward."
Nobody's benefiting more from this than Asus, who noted an 83.6 percent year-over-year growth rate, nearly double that of Lenovo, which had the second highest growth rate at 47.3 percent.
Someone at Asus deserves a raise. We're talking about whoever it was that convinced the company it was a good idea to put so much time and energy into the netbook market, because that strategy has paid off in a big way. For the first time ever, Asus has positioned itself as one of the top 5 PC makers in the world, and it's mostly due to Eee PC sales.
According to market research firm IDC, Asus shipped 4.3 million PCs in the second quarter of 2010, claiming 5.3 percent of the market. That also represents an 84 percent growth rate for the quarter, putting the company shoulder-to-shoulder with Toshiba for the fifth spot.
"It's remarkable, particularly for people who haven't seen the Asus name around," said Loren Loverde, head of IDC's Quarterly Worldwide PC Tracker. "Toshiba is a long-time venerable PC player. Asus is a relative newcomer. But they have been shipping pretty significant volumes (of PCs), more substantially outside the U.S., but pretty significantly in most markets."
Hewlett-Packard still leads the pack with 18.1 percent of the market, trailed by Dell, Acer, and Lenovo, in that order.