Channel partners in the PC industry continue to do well despite reports from market research firms Gartner and IDC that show the global market for the systems continuing to contract, according to another industry analyst.
Gartner and IDC analysts reported last week that in Q3, worldwide PC shipments declined, a trend that has been fairly consistent for the past several years.
IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker says PC shipments declined 0.5 percent over the same period last year, but while there is still a shortfall, it continued a trend toward greater stabilisation in the market. There were no significant shortages of components, but the space was hurt by higher component prices and inventory in some markets. However, there was improvement in emerging markets, and back-to-school sales helped the overall results, it said.
Gartner analysts had a different take, saying shipments fell 3.6 percent, and shortages of components like DRAM hiked prices that tend to get shifted to consumers. Gartner also said promotions like back-to-school sales no longer help drive growth.
The numbers followed a familiar pattern that started soon after smartphones and, subsequently, tablets hit the market, redirecting some consumer and business dollars away from PCs. Analyst have also pointed to PC users keeping their PCs for longer periods of time.
However, industry observers like Bob O'Donnell, principal analyst with TECHnalysis, have remained optimistic about PCs, saying that when work needs to get done, people turn to their PCs.
Enderle said that with his work with forecasts, numbers and market analysis, he is "having real problems with IDC and Gartner numbers at the moment given Lenovo, Dell and HP Inc. - the largest players - continue to report PC growth and have been for a number of quarters now".
"I can't reconcile the growth in the major players with a continued decline in the overall market. Given I can't account for this discrepancy, I'm less than confident that the report of the PC market's continued decline is anything but fake news," he said.
IDC declined to respond to Enderle's comments. As of the posting of this story, Gartner has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The analyst's positive view of the strength of the PC market translatea to the channel as well, given the buying patterns and the relative weakness of the tablet space.
"As far as I can tell, the channel remains relatively strong," he said. "People are buying up market (the more expensive configurations seem to be moving well), and the tablet threat evaporated."
That said, there are steps partners can take to strengthen their position in the market, according to the analyst.
One is making decisions around which PC makers to work with. In both the IDC and Gartner numbers, HP showed solid year-over-year growth in shipments, while Lenovo and Dell either had slight growth or slight decline. On the other hand, Gartner said Asus' shipments fell nine percent, while IDC put the OEM's decline at 14.6 percent.
"If there is a decline, it is with brands that aren't doing adequate demand generation," Enderle said. "Shifting to brands that are would assure a more stable and growing opportunity."
In addition, partners can consider growing the services they offer customers in such areas as customisation, he said.
"Millennials appear to be asking for more customisation, which most OEMs have been slow to respond to," the analyst said. "This might actually be better done in channel. Providing options that allow for the customisation could open up new opportunities with firms that seek to attract and better serve high-value millennial employees."
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