NEW YORK — Global PC shipments topped 52 million units during the fourth quarter of 2013. Despite a slightly better-than-expected holiday shopping season and some renewed interest from business buyers, sales fell short of industry expectations, according to a February 12 research report from IHS, citing the continued popularity of smartphones and tablets.
Overall, PC shipments increased about 9.4% from the third quarter of 2013 to the fourth -- one of the stronger growth periods during the last several years. However, industry analysts expected shipments of 55.3 million units and instead the market saw shipments total out at about 52.6 million.
Craig Stice, director for compute, servers, and storage at IHS, told EE Times that new platforms which had arrived on the heels of the third quarter of 2013 were expected to bring in stronger revenue growth. Still, the popularity of mobile devices proved too strong to counter.
"The consumer PC demand has been falling due to the popularity of the media tablet," Stice said. "Tablets have changed the consumer experience a bit. Those who are still using PCs are holding onto them longer. They haven't had a need to refresh them."
The hope for the PC industry rested with Intel's Bay Trail processor, which is a hybrid tablet and notebook chip, but it seems not to be achieving the kind of adoption rates needed to give the market the boost it needs.
"There just weren't as many systems using Bay Trail," Stice said. "There were a handful, but as far as pure volume with the Bay Trail and a lower price point for the consumer market, we just didn't see it as much. But those systems are going to continue to launch in 2014."
Among hopeful signs, Stice noted that PC vendors have been very conservative in their purchasing and maintained very lean inventory levels as a result of low consumer PC demand. This ensures that they are not over producing at a time when sales are sluggish.
The IHS report also placed a bet on Microsoft's Windows 8. As the popular Windows XP system begins to head toward end-of-life, the industry is still holding out hope for a refresh with consumers and businesses moving toward Windows 8. Still, others think that tablets, such as the iPad, have saturated the market, creating room for other devices such as PCs.
However, the public's thirst for mobility doesn't seem to want to slack just yet. On February 12, IDC released new smartphones figures showing that shipments based the one billion mark in 2013. Of that, nearly 95% of smartphones shipped with either Google's Android or Apple's iOS operating system.
— Zewde Yeraswork, Associate Editor, EE Times