PC Sales Slip Less-Than-Projected 1.7 Percent, IDC Says

Worldwide personal-computer shipments fell 1.7 percent in the second quarter, a smaller drop than estimated as demand in the U.S., Europe and Canada helped make up for declines in Asia, researcher IDC said.

Shipments slipped to 74.4 million units from 75.7 million a year earlier, the smallest quarterly drop in two years, the market researcher said in a statement today. IDC had predicted a decline of 7.1 percent. Unit sales in the U.S. rose 6.9 percent.

Businesses are replacing older computers and consumers are returning to the PC market after years of favoring smartphones and tablets, IDC said. That’s lifting sales at top three sellers Lenovo Group Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc., which all posted gains of more than 10 percent. Shipments for the year may fall less than the 6 percent IDC had predicted, though the improvements may prove to be temporary if the consumer recovery doesn’t persist, said Loren Loverde, an analyst at IDC.

“We really want to be cautious -- it’s not indicative yet of a broad consumer re-entry into the market,” Loverde said in a phone interview. “Even though the shift to tablets is slowing, they’re still a significant threat to PCs.”

Shipments have improved in the U.S. and other developed markets as companies replaced aging machinery running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP operating system, which the software maker no longer supports, according to the Framingham, Massachusetts-based researcher. One encouraging sign for consumer demand is the increase in sales of cheaper machines, Loverde said. IDC isn’t revising its forecast that the market will decline through 2018, he said.

Top Sellers

The world’s three largest computer makers, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, got a boost because they are the primary suppliers to companies in developed markets, Loverde said. Together, the top five PC vendors -- rounded out by Acer Inc. and Asustek Computer Inc. -- posted growth of 9.8 percent, while shipments in the rest of the market declined 19 percent.

Separately, Gartner Inc., another research firm, said global shipments were little changed in the second quarter at 75.8 million units. U.S. sales gained 7.4 percent, according to Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner.

In April, IDC said global shipments in the first quarter fell 4.4 percent, while Gartner pegged the decline at 1.7 percent in the first three months of 2014.

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