PC Shipments Have Sluggish Second Quarter

Global personal-computer shipments stalled in the second quarter, a seventh straight period of anemic growth, amid economic weakness in Europe and waning demand for PCs in favor of tablets, according to Gartner Inc.

Shipments slipped 0.1 percent to 87.5 million units, market-research firm Gartner said in a statement today. Hewlett-Packard Co. clung to its spot as the top PC seller, followed by Lenovo Group Ltd., while Acer Inc. nudged aside Dell Inc. for the No. 3 ranking, Gartner said. Fellow industry researcher IDC also said shipments fell 0.1 percent, compared with the 2.1 percent growth it predicted in May.

An uneven economic recovery in the U.S., slower spending in Europe and the encroachment of Apple Inc.’s iPad and other tablets has caused PC demand to stagnate, according to Gartner.

“Uncertainties in the economy in various regions, as well as consumers’ low interest in PC purchases, were some of the key influences of slow PC shipment growth,” Mikako Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner, said in the statement.

The recent stretch of sluggish growth contrasts with double-digit percentage gains in the previous decade, fueled by a spree of notebook-computer buying by companies and households. Customers now are less interested in those devices as new technology products and services emerge, Kitagawa said.

A reflection of that was seen in the U.S., where Gartner said second-quarter PC shipments dropped 5.7 percent to 15.9 million units. Tight government and education budgets also contributed to the U.S. decline, Gartner said. IDC said U.S. shipments fell an even steeper 10.6 percent, more than double the 4.4 percent drop the research firm projected.

Ultrabooks, Windows 8

The PC market may get a boost from a major promotion for new lightweight laptops known as Ultrabooks, supported by Intel Corp., the world’s largest computer-chip maker. Microsoft Corp.’s unveiling of a new operating system, Windows 8, also may provide a spark later this year, according to IDC.

“Consumers are delaying purchases, and vendors and retailers are slowing down their PC activities to clear existing inventories,” David Daoud, IDC’s research director for personal computing, said in a statement.

Apple was the only company among the top five computer makers to see sales rise in the U.S., the largest PC market, Gartner said. The Cupertino, California-based company had 12 percent of the U.S. market, in third place behind Hewlett-Packard’s 25 percent and Dell’s 21.7 percent.

PC sales in Europe rose 1.9 percent to 25.1 million units in the second quarter. Many customers held back on purchases because of the Euro-zone economic crisis, Gartner said. Shipments in the Asia-Pacific region grew 2 percent to 31.8 million units.

Earlier this week, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., the second-biggest maker of processors for PCs, reported an unexpected drop in second-quarter sales, citing weakness in China and Europe.

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