The decline of the PC market continues, with the seventh consecutive quarter of slumping sales, but industry watcher Gartner suggests that the worst may be over.
Gartner claims the market for traditional laptop and desktop PCs has experienced its highest yearly decline on record, but believes the bottom may be fast approaching.
Figures released by Gartner estimate that the global market for traditional desktop and laptop PCs - including netbooks and sub-notebooks, but not tablets - shrank by 6.9 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2013. In total, sales for the quarter hit 82.6 million units - down from 88.7 million in Q4 2012. The US was particularly hard-hit, dropping 7.5 per cent compared to 6.7 per cent for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Heaviest-hit, however, was the Asia/Pacific region, which saw a whopping 9.8 per cent decline in sales compared to Q4 2012 - a drop Gartner is directly pinning on consumers being more interested in owning the latest smartphone and using tablets rather than laptops for on-the-go access to entertainment and information.
The poor showing in the last quarter has dragged the PC market's overall figures down for the year, dropping a massive 10 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012 - the highest drop Gartner has ever recorded, and pushing sales back to 2009 levels. Gartner analysts are, however, bullish on the future of the PC, claiming that established markets have bottomed-out and should return to stability - or even growth - in the near future.
'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,
' explained 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.
Globally, Lenovo retained its top-spot position with 16.9 per cent of the market and came out as the only vendor to grow in 2013 - albeit by a small 2.1 per cent. HP leapfrogged Dell into a second-place ranking with 16.2 per cent, despite a 9.3 per cent drop, to its rival's 11.6 per cent share and 2.2 per cent decline. Acer is highlighted as the vendor which struggled the most in 2013, with its business shrinking 28.1 per cent - nearly double that of second-worst performer Asus which dropped 17.7 per cent in 2013.
The figures arrive as the Register
claims newly-private company Dell is looking to slash its EMEA sales team by 30 per cent and its US team by 20 per cent - figures Dell have claimed are inaccurate, without denying that layoffs are planned.