Worldwide PC (personal computer) shipments totaled 80.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14), a year-on-year decline of -2.4%, according to the IDC (www.idc.com) research group.
Total shipments were slightly above expectations of -4.8% growth, but the market still contracted both year on year and in comparison to the third quarter. Although the holiday quarter saw shipment volume inch above 80 million for the first time in 2014, the final quarter nonetheless marked the end of yet another difficult year – the third consecutive year with overall volumes declining. On an annual basis, 2014 shipments totaled 308.6 million units, down -2.1% from the prior year.
Although the U.S. and Europe remained stronger than other markets, growth in these mature regions slowed from earlier in the year. Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) continued to strengthen, seeing only a very slight increase in volume as a number of public projects and improving consumer demand helped stabilize the market.
Similarly, commercial demand, which boosted growth earlier in the year, has slowed while consumer demand is gradually coming back. Nevertheless, the market progress has been fueled by low-priced systems, including growth of Chromebooks and promotion of Windows 8 + Bing. Constraints on Bing promotions, such as limits on larger-sized devices, could remove a key market driver while some fourth quarter production was attributed to getting ahead of holiday-related production constraints in Asia in the first quarter, effectively shifting volume from early 2015 into the end of 2014.
“The strength from market leaders, as well as improvement in Asia/Pacific and the consumer market more generally, are positive signs for the PC market,” says Loren Loverde, IDC Vice President, Worldwide PC Tracker. “Growth of Chrome, Bing, all-in-ones, ultraslim, convertibles, and touch systems similarly make PCs more compelling and competitive. Nevertheless, some of the gains are relatively small, and weakening drivers like Bing promotions and end of XP support transitions, cast a shadow of doubt on the strength of the market going into 2015.”
The U.S. PC market continued to grow in the fourth quarter, outperforming the global market for the tenth consecutive quarter. The past year was supported by Windows XP to 7 migrations in the commercial segment while consumer volume continued to decline, adds Rajani Singh, Senior Research Analyst, Personal Computing, IDC. “Moving forward, the U.S. PC market should see flat to slightly positive growth. The U.S. consumer PC market will finally move to positive growth in 2015, strengthened by the slowdown in the tablet market, vendor and OEM [original equipment manufacturer] efforts to rejuvenate the PC market, the launch of Window 10, and replacement of older PCs.”
In the U.S., market leader HP had a remarkable quarter with year on year growth jumping to more than 26%. Other key vendors also had strong performances. As a result, the U.S. PC market concentration has increased to 83% of shipments coming from the top 5 vendors. Portable PC growth remains strong with double-digit growth from a year ago, while desktop shipments declined by more than -10%. According to IDC, Apple had 12.7% of the U.S. market on sales of approximately 2.2 million Macs compared to 11.3% in the year-ago quarter on sales of 1.9 million Macs.