Apple was the big loser in a second quarter global PC market that showed "signs of improvement", according to Gartner, whose data also suggested HP Inc is gaining ground on market leader Lenovo.
PC sales shrank for a seventh consecutive quarter, Gartner said, although the 5.2 per cent year-on-year decline in shipments in the three months to 30 June compares favourably with the 9.6 and 8.3 per cent annual dips registered Q1 and Q4 2015, respectively.
Gartner's data, which is preliminary, includes desktops, notebooks and ultramobiles, but not Chromebooks or iPads.
Gartner said the market is showing some signs of improvement after the dollar's appreciation against foreign currencies such as the euro finally ended. As a result, EMEA shipments fell 4.3 per cent in Q2, compared with the 10 per cent slump recorded in Q1.
"One of the ongoing problems in the PC market has been the price hike in selected regions due to the weakening local currency against the US dollar," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "The price issue has impacted the EMEA and Latin America regions for the past year. However, PC shipment declines became rather modest in the second quarter compared with previous quarters, which suggests a fading currency impact."
Apple Q2's biggest lemon
On a global level, Apple was the quarter's fall guy as it lost fourth spot to Asus following a 4.9 per decline in shipments. This was the worst result of all the major vendors, although Gartner's 'others' category – encompassing everyone outside the top five – did fall by almost a fifth.
A poor quarter in North America, where Apple's shipments crashed 9.3 per cent, was to blame.
The battle for first place also heated up in the quarter as second-placed HP gained on Lenovo, which suffered a 2.2 per cent fall in shipments – its seventh consecutive quarterly decline.
HP Inc now has 19.1 per cent market share globally, compared with Lenovo's 20.5 per cent, after growing shipments 1.8 per cent in Q2, including a 4.6 per cent rise in EMEA, where it is market leader. The US-based vendor returned to growth after four consecutive quarters of shipment decline, thanks to its resolving a build-up in inventory which had slowed sell-in shipments, Gartner said.
Third-placed Dell extended its market share to 15.2 per cent after growing faster than the industry average in all regions.
The race for fourth place is so tight – with Asus on 7.3 per cent, Apple on 7.1 per cent and Acer on 6.9 per cent – that Gartner admitted the order could change after its preliminary data is finalised.
Although the decline in EMEA shipments slowed to single digits in Q2, Gartner warned that the sharp decline in post-Brexit sterling will trigger price increases, thereby likely causing downward pressure on UK sales.
"We remain cautious for 2016," said Isabelle Durand, principal research analyst at Gartner. "Most companies will be focused on surviving the challenges of the next 12 months. The brightest spot in the market could perhaps be an increase in average selling prices, with good sales of high-end gaming PCs and hybrid laptops fuelling this change."
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