Industry trackers on Wednesday reported that sales of traditional personal computers (PC) continued to wither in the recently ended quarter as tastes shifted to tablets.
A total of 80.3 million PCs were shipped worldwide in the third quarter of this year, an 8.6 percent drop from the same period last year, according to Gartner Inc.
It was the sixth consecutive quarter of decline for PC sales as buyers increasingly turn to tablet computers to access the Internet.
“The third quarter is often referred to as the ‘back-to-school’ quarter for PC sales, and sales this quarter dropped to their lowest volume since 2008,” Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said. “Consumers’ shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets.”
The trend is being heightened by the expanding availability of economically priced tablets powered by Google-backed Android software, which is provided free to device makers by the California-based Internet titan, Gartner said.
Market figures released on Wednesday by International Data Corp (IDC) showed shipments in the third quarter fell 7.6 percent year-on-year to 81.6 million units in what was described as comparatively good news, given that the drop in PC sales was forecast to be about 9 percent.
A slight rise in businesses buying computers and interest in machines powered by new Windows software improved sales somewhat, according to IDC.
“Despite being a little ahead of forecast, and the work that’s being done on new designs and integration of features like touch, the third quarter results suggest there’s still a high probability that we will see another decline in worldwide shipments in 2014,” IDC Worldwide PC Trackers vice president Loren Loverde said.
IDC expects that the PC market will hit bottom sometime next year, with a recovery starting in 2015 as companies and consumers finally replace aging PCs.
Gartner says this year will be the worst, with flat shipments next year and single-digit percentage growth in 2015.
The outlook for a stabilizing PC market was mirrored by Hewlett-Packard Co (HP), the world’s No. 2 PC maker behind Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想). In a presentation before analysts on Wednesday, the company predicted “stabilizing revenue declines” for its upcoming fiscal year, which starts next month.
The top 3 PC sellers — Lenovo, HP and Dell Inc — all increased their shipments between zero and 3 percent during the quarter, thanks in part to a healthy US market, according to Gartner and IDC.
Taiwan’s Acer Inc (宏碁) and Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) suffered steep declines last quarter.
IDC said Acer and Asustek suffered declines of about 34 percent, while Gartner pegged the drop at nearly 23 percent.