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PC-innards

Lenovo, Dell only winners as PC market continues serious decline

Dell may have had a turbulent 2013, with Forbes describing its move to go private as “the nastiest tech buyout ever“, but it’s one of only two companies bucking the continuing decline in the PC market.

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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It may not be hitting the same numbers as Lenovo, the company currently at the top of the PC market and the only other major manufacturer currently showing growth, but for the Texas-based company it’ll be a welcome piece of news.

According to technology research company Gartner, Dell sales grew 6.2% between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the final quarter of 2013. That’s just a little under the 6.6% growth Lenovo saw in the same period and in stark contrast to the 6.9% decline seen by the global PC market as a whole.

Global PC shipments

With a redefined focus, going beyond its traditional strength in the professional PC market, it’ll be interesting to see whether Dell manages to keep up the growth it’s seen over the past year.

Even more encouraging for PC manufacturers across the board is Gartner’s assertion that the market has bottomed out in a number of markets (in other words, tablets have done as much damage as they’re going to).

“Although PC shipments continued to decline in the worldwide market in the fourth quarter, we increasingly believe markets, such as the US, have bottomed out as the adjustment to the installed base slows,” says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

On the other hand, things could prove to be even more rocky in emerging markets over the coming months.

“Strong growth in tablets continued to negatively impact PC growth in emerging markets,” says Kitagawa. “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.”

That’s even true for market leader Lenovo, which struggled in the Asia/Pacific region and particularly in China, where it’s headquartered.

According to Gartner, PC shipments in Asia/Pacific totaled 26.5-million units in the fourth quarter of 2013, a 9.8% decline from the fourth quarter of 2012. Buyers did not place a priority on PC purchases, preferring to spend on alternative devices such as smartphones. Some continued to delay their purchases of a PC as their requirements, such as entertainment and information access, can be addressed by other devices, such as tablets.

Interestingly Lenovo’s marketshare growth far outstripped its shipment growth. Dell meanwhile managed to grow its marketshare despite shipping fewer PCs in 2013 than it did in 2012.

Global PC shipments 2013

For the year, PC shipments were 315.9-million units, a 10% decline from 2012. Gartner says that this represents the worst decline in PC market history, equal to the shipment level in 2009.