Worldwide PC shipments not great in Q3, but better by holiday season

The PC market is still growing but the back-to-school season saw “tepid” consumer spending, managing only to expand 11 percent in the third quarter with things picking up in September.

Positive sequential growth was exhibited over the second quarter, which tends to be the way of things in Q3, says IDC. Forecasts were mostly met – Japan exceeded expectations while others were spot on or slightly lower. Japan performed stronger than expected in the enterprise and SMB space, which gave the market a boost in the arm.

The United States enjoyed 3.8 percent growth compared to this time last year but that was still seven percent under forecast. It managed positive sequential growth compared to the second quarter of 2010. IDC says consumer fatigue plagued the market in general, though Apple’s influence on the PC market continues to shine – the iPad has had some negative impact on the sale of mini notebooks, but the “halo effect” of the tablet propelled Mac sales and secured Jobs’ Mob the number three spot in the US market.

The EMEA region maintained double digit growth during the back to school period as predicted – bolstered by recovery across the emerging markets as well as businesses in Western Europe starting to get their act together. As with the US, mini notebook sales suffered here too.

Retail inventory problems in China and Indonesia held the Asia/Pacific region, excluding Japan, two percent below forecasts at 13 percent yearly growth. Notebook sales were impacted by the retail inventory issues and desktop sales were stronger than expected – but not enough to offset notebooks, says IDC. 

HP stayed top dog for worldwide PC shipments. Overall it stagnated – it’s had a flat year thanks partly to channel issues in the Asia/Pacific region. In the US it saw growth of about three percent.

Inventory difficulties for Acer caused a backlog in the channel, but it did get the silver medal for PC shipments. Its growth in the United States and Japan was poor and it grew slower than the market thanks to strong performance last year. However it took advantage of emerging markets and grew rapidly in those.

Acer is followed by Dell. Globally Dell grew 10 percent and its emerging markets strategy is still healthy, its business remains “robust” says IDC. Dell was then followed by Lenovo which has done excellently for itself – strong desktop sales off the back of business renewal projects and “impressive” gains in all regions had it grow just over 30 percent.

ASUS struggled with some inventory issues but still managed to come out fighting, making strong gains in most regions anyway and doing particularly well in the Asia/Pacific region, which helped it pass the 30 percent growth mark too.

Toshiba, sixth in the table, had shipments increase over 14 percent for the quarter, flogging plenty of its notebooks in the Asia/Pacific region – while seeing stable growth in the US and EMEA too.

Jay Chou, research analyst working with IDC’s Worldwide PC Tracker Program, said that despite a sluggish start “a good rally in September could be a good prelude for what is ahead”. He says that there’s hope for a pick-up, citing lower PC component costs, excitement around new media-centric form factors and continued business buying should mean the PC market swells by the year’s end. It should “still make for a competitive holiday season.” Happy Kwanzaa!