10:25 a.m. Friday, April 10, 2015
Dell Inc.’s PC shipments dropped in the first quarter of this year, part of an industry-wide plunge, but its market share remained steady.
Weak demand for desktop computers caused PC sales to drop, reflecting the industry’s ongoing struggles with the shift to smartphones, tablets and other mobile gadgets.
Dell shipped 9 million units in the quarter, down from 9.5 last year, according to the Gartner research firm. Its market share, according to Gartner, stayed at 12.6 percent.
A second research firm, the International Data Corp., painted a similar picture: Dell’s shipments dropped to 9.2 million in the quarter from 9.85 million last year, with a slight market share gain of 13.5 percent in the quarter compared to 13.4 percent last year.
Dell officials focused on the share gain reported by IDC, calling it the company’s ninth consecutive quarter of year-over-year share increase.
“We maintained momentum in our PC business in Q1,” said company spokesman David Frink. “Dell’s global share is now 13.5 percent as we enhanced our portfolio of PC solutions and also focused on profitable growth during the quarter. We plan to continue our strategy of investing in our end-user computing business throughout the year.”
One big reason for the decline was businesses buying fewer desktop computers, according to Gartner. It noted companies have mostly finished replacing older PCs that used outdated Windows XP software.
PC sales may get a boost later this year when Microsoft Corp. releases its next version of Windows, analysts said, but they’re still expecting an overall decline in sales for this year.
One bright spot identified by Gartner was an increase in sales of laptop computers and hybrid models that combine features of tablets and laptops. That could help drive a gradual return to growth by next year, said Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa.
Gartner estimates PC makers shipped 71.7 million computers in the first quarter, down 5.2 percent from a year earlier. IDC used different methods to estimate a decline of 6.7 percent.
By IDC’s count, PC makers shipped 68.5 million PCs in the quarter — the lowest quarterly number in six years, according to senior researcher Jay Chou.
“It’s still a pretty tough market out there,” Chou said. While his firm had forecast a slightly bigger decline, he said, “it’s really nothing to celebrate.”
Some computer makers are doing better than others. China’s Lenovo Group Ltd., the world’s biggest PC company, saw an increase in worldwide sales, as did its nearest competitor, California-based Hewlett-Packard Co. Smaller companies, including Dell, saw sales decline.
Apple increased its sales in the United States, although it does not rank among the five biggest computer-makers worldwide.
Global PC sales have fallen steadily over the last three years, but IDC and Gartner are projecting a return to growth in 2016. While many computer users now prefer portable devices, analysts say some people who bought tablets are finding that laptop PCs are more practical for certain activities, such as extended typing.
The slow-down in PC sales has rippled through Silicon Valley. Intel Corp., which makes the microprocessors used in most PCs, lowered its revenue forecast last month while citing weak demand for desktop PCs. Intel will report first-quarter earnings on Tuesday.