The global PC market had a shocking first quarter due to sluggish demand, with tablets dragging the industry further into the mire, according to the latest figures from Canalys.
Total global shipments of desktops, notebooks, two-in-ones and tablets totalled 101 million units in the first quarter of 2016, marking a 13 per cent year-on-year drop to the lowest point since Q2 2011.
Star performers were two-in-ones, which grew 13 per cent, but tablets were the dunce of the class, falling 15 per cent to just under 39 million units. Leading the market was Apple, which still saw a 17 per cent drop in shipments, with Lenovo in second place, shipping around 25,000 fewer units than Apple.
HP was in third place, with Dell fourth and Samsung fifth. EMEA shipments declined 15 per cent, with notebooks 18 per cent lower than the previous year.
But Canalys predicted that declines will lessen in the next quarter, as the "inflationary" effect Windows with Bing had on shipments has ceased. However, the analyst said that while western Europe shipments are likely to improve next quarter, markets in the Middle East and Africa will continue to struggle due to a "challenging macro environment".
The outlook was bleak in Asia-Pac regions too, with all PC categories experiencing weakness, affected by improving quality and falling prices in the smartphone market, Canalys said, adding that in low-income markets, notebooks and tablets are no longer ‘must-have products, and multiple device ownership is becoming less common. Shipments in that region dropped 14 per cent, marking the third consecutive quarter of double-digit declines in the Chinese market.
On a more positive note, North America was the best-performing region in Q1, with shipments falling only five per cent. Canalys explained that the tablet market in the US was aided by shipments of large-screen detachable tablets such as the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4.
It added that shipments of two-in-ones and detachable tablets are expected to do well in the US and will grow in high-income markets, with new form factors triggering an increase in PC ASPs, boosting the two-in-one and tablet categories at the expense of notebooks.
"The global PC market had a bad start to 2016 and it is difficult to see any bright spots for vendors in the coming quarters. The tablet boom has faded in the distance and the market is fully mature. Global shipment declines are expected to continue unless vendors bring transformational innovation to the market," said Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys.
"Apple and Microsoft are propping up shipments in established markets with their detachables, but price points make them less affordable in low-income countries. Although other vendors are coming to market with cheaper alternatives, they are unlikely to have a big impact on volumes in the short term. The number of people looking to buy their first PC is at an all-time low and 2016 is likely to bring yet more turmoil to global PC vendors."
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