The fruity cargo cult Apple has managed to ward off the downturn in the PC market for a while now – thanks mostly to its fanboys refusing to buy anything without an Apple logo. However, all that has suddenly changed.
Apple shipped eight percent fewer Mac computers during the second quarter of 2016, compared with a year earlier, according to new estimates from two research firms.
What should be worrying Jobs’ Mob is that some of its bigger rivals managed to find growth in the PC business. So the concept that Apple will always have a market for its products is proving groundless.
Analysts estimate Apple shipped 4.4 million to 4.6 million Macs in the quarter ending June 30. True, they had a higher margin than other PCs in the market, but if a couple of fanboys refuse to buy a Mac then the figures take a bigger kicking.
The Tame Apple Press is doing its best, saying that that the whole of the PC market is suffering and it was wonderful that Apple saw off the inevitable for so long. However.
But HP, Dell and ASUS all increased their shipments during the last quarter, and benefited from a healthy US market. This is a bit weird given that is the same market which Apple is supposed to be doing well in.
Some of the problem is that Apple has basically ignored the Mac and not bothered to upgrade its MacBook Pro. Instead the company has been promoting its Surface Book clone so that it probably only has itself to blame.
ABI Research said that Chromebooks are leading growth for the notebook PC category, with Chrome OS systems expected to ship over eight million units by the end of the year.
And ABI analyst Jeff Orr said that growth for Chromebooks will show a 22 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years.
Orr said: “Industry professionals can expect the notebook PC marker, including Chromebooks, laptops and ultraportable PCs to remain roughly flat year on year in 2015, with flat to slightly positive growth projected through 2020.”
He said that next year will see a sales surge for both Chromebooks and ultraportables with people adopting Chromebooks in schools and 2-in-1 ultraportables representing the future.
ABI estimates that 164 million notebooks will ship this year.
The ultraportables and laptop will show a decline of 14 percent compared to last year.
Orr said that’s mostly due to unit volume declines at Acer, Asus and Lenovo.
Apple will have 32 percent share of the ultraportable PC with various Macbook Air models.
A market research firm said that 40 million tablets will ship worldwide in this, the fourth quarter of 2015.
ABI Research said last quarter 30.6 million branded tablets shipped, but described this quarter as promising, with units accounting for 29 percent of the total volume in 2015.
Nevertheless, the fourth quarter will be down 19.7 percent compared to the same quarter last year.
Jeff Orr, a research director at ABI, said: “Vendors are hoping to gain back some of their unit and revenue shortfall from earlier in 2015. New tablets from Amazon and others will utilise a low cost approach to achieve this strategy.”
Orr numbers the vendors as Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei and Asus, in order. But the biggest gains during the quarter were made by Lenovo and Asus.
The biggest vendor losers during the quarter will be Apple and Microsoft – the former fell eight percent during the first nine months of 2015. Microsoft lost over half of its market share in the previous 90 days as it moved from the Surface Pro 3 to the Surface Pro 4.
Sales of tablets have continued to fall in the third quarter of this year – that’s the fourth quarter in a row showing a decline.
IDC released figures showing that shipments were down by 12.6 percent in the third quarter, compared to the same quarter this time last year.
Shipments amounted to 48.7 million units worldwide, and the installed base of tablets at the end of last year was 581.9 million units, up 36 percent from 2013.
IDC said that it believes people are hanging onto devices for four years or more, but added to that, the smartphone installed base is getting bigger and phone display sizes are larger.
The market is on the move, said IDC, and there are signs that people are considering detachable machines, the so-called 2-in-1s.
The problem there is that these detachables are much more expensive than smartphones and, for that matter, tablets.
Apple remains the top dog in the market, although the shine is coming off its tablet line because of “self cannibilisation”. Samgung i second, followed by Lenovo, Asis, and Huawei.
In the week that microprocessor manufacturers Intel and AMD saw mixed financial results, it seems that the market for X86 based PCs has fallen again.
IDC reported that PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) accounted for 18.4 million units in the third quarter of 015.
That’s a fall of 23 percent compared to the same quarter last year. IDC analysts attribute the fall by a mixture of adverse currency fluctuations, political instability, and oversupply of PCs in the channel.
IDC said that shipments of machines using Windows 10 increased in September, but Microsoft’s decision to offer free upgrades means that demand wasn’t great. Companies are trying to sell the Windows 8 products still in the warehouses.
Maciek Gornicki, research manager at IDC EMEA, said: “Bringing inventory levels under control has proven to be very challenging, but there has been clear progress and this should facilitate new shipments in the coming quarter.”
When dicing the numbers, the Western European area saw a decline of 18.4 percent, but the Middle East dropped by 28.4 percent, while Eastern European shipments fell by 31.3 percent.
The top vendors in the period were HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer, and Asus. But of these vendors, Acer saw a drop of 38 percent compared to the same quarter in 2014, while Asus didn’t do very much better, with a decline of 26 percent.
All market research analysts are agreed that the tablet market is saturated and vendor sales are falling.
But that doesn’t mean they’re going to give up the ghost.
According to Taiwanese research firm Trendforce, tablets have yet to move away from being entertainment devices, but there is room for growth in the business application market.
Trendforce said that in 2015 something like 163 million tablets will ship, but that’s a 14.9 percent decline year on year.
Branded vendors account for 117 million units but sales of those have slid by 17.7 percent year on year, while so called “whitebox” vendors have seen their share fall by 3.1 percent.
Nevertheless, Apple remains on top of the tablet pile, with a 31.4 percent market share. Apple will introduce an iPad Mini 3 and later on a 12.9 inch iPad Pro, but Trendforce reckons they don’t offer a compelling buy.
Number two player is Samsung with 22.2 percent of the market, while Lenovo, Asus, and Microsoft follow the pack.
While Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is showing signs of tablet saturation, the market dynamics differ from Western Europe and the USA markedly.
IDC released figures which showed tablet shipments in the region fell by 21.4 percent in the second quarter of 2015, and 2-in-1 devices fell even more precipitously by 38.6 percent.
Average selling prices also fell in the quarter by 21.9 percent.
Lenovo, however, had a market share of 16.8 percent, followed by Samsung with 15.9 percent share. Apple, however, saw its figures fall to five percent, partly because of the market conditions in Russia and the strength of the US dollar.
Fourth in the pecking order was Asus, with 3.9 percent share, and lastly relatively unknown firm Digma, which specialises in selling inexpensive devices with screen sizes smaller than nine inches.
Jiri Tersel, senior analyst at IDC, said: “Tough competition among vendors, steadily declining prices, and efficient mass production, all contribute to a deflationary market. Consumers benefit from new technologies that offer new options for work, education and leisure.”
Here’s the CEE picture for the quarter.
Even though Intel turned in a whopping loss in its mobile unit of $4.2 billion last year, it hasn’t totally decided to throw in the towel on its strategy.
According to analysts at market intelligence firm Digitimes Research, by subsidising its Chinese partners it has created a pretty big supply chain and shipped 46 mobile CPUs last year.
While Intel is keeping its head low on the mobile front this year, the analysts at DR believe that there will still be solid business in China this year.
That’s particularly so because its supply chain is in place and the Atom X3 SoFIA which Intel has designed with its Chinese partner appears to have some traction in the marketplace.
Last year, Intel leaned on Asus to support its Android smartphone line but it appears that this year it is relying on Chinese unbranded, “white box” companies to keep its shipments buoyant.
A report said that 2015 is not a great year for tablet sales.
In fact, according to ABI Research, compared to last year, tablet sales fell by 16 percent causing the big players to feel some pain. In the first quarter of this year, figures showed a quarter on quarter decline of as much as 35 percent.
Apple and Samsung continue to be the leadrs in tablet sales but the smaller vendors are hurting, according to ABI director Jeff Orr.
He said: “The tablet market lacks a truly competitive playing field needing a strong third even fourth vendor to drive the market out of stagnation.”
He said that Acer, Asus and Lenovo could each occupy those spots but have to build their business a little more.
The fall doesn’t mean the end of the road for tablets. Far from it – tablets are still popular in households and both business and education are finding practical purposes for their use.
But the problems tablets have are they last a long time.
Orr said the initial growth of tablets might never be matched again for the sector, but “they are still a strong force in the market”.
Hybrid devices look set to be the fastest growing segment of the mobile PC market this year.
Gartner is predicting that 21.5 million hybrid devices will ship this year, a rise of 70 percent compared to last year, and accounting for 12 percent of total sales of notebook PCs in 2015.
Of those hybrid devices, eight million are predicted to be ultramobile tablets – that’s “two-in-one” tablets and 13.5 million will be “two-in-one” ad convertible ultramobiles.
But it’s difficult for IT departments to choose hybrid ultramobiles because the PC base predominantly uses Windows 7, and legacy applications don’t use touch. Tracy Tsai, a research director at Gartner, believes this might change when Windows 10 becomes popular in businesses.
The leading vendor supplying hybrid devices is Lenovo, which has 41 percent market share, while Asus and HP are also contenders. But so too is Microsoft, which held a 36 percent market share last year, said Tsai.