PC sales slip for first time in two years

Computer sales fell during the first three months of this year, marking the first sales slide since 2009, according to Gartner.

PC sales slip for first time in two years

The analyst firm blamed post-holiday shopping fatigue, Apple’s iPad and the effects of the earthquake in Japan for the slowdown in global sales.

PC sales fell 1.1% in the first quarter to 84.3 million worldwide, according to Gartner, well short of its forecast for 3% growth.

The dip was the first since the second quarter of 2009, when most of the world was still in the grip of economic turmoil.

Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers

The research firm said global sales were dragged down by a weak consumer segment, as shoppers resisted low prices on PCs or switched to buying tablet devices.

“Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics. We’re investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market.”

Business demand for computers was much stronger, said Gartner, and likely to last another year as companies replace old machines.

In Europe, sales were down 2.8% in the first quarter, again the first decline since 2009. Western Europe was the main weak spot, as customers hold off on buying new laptops and desktops in favour of tablets and other mobile devices. “This is extending current PC life cycles,” Gartner said.

Gartner still expects worldwide PC sales to grow 10.5% to 388 million units this year, although that is well below its forecast of 15.9% growth, made in November.

PC rankings

The world’s biggest computer makers – Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Dell – all saw year-on-year declines.

In Europe, HP slid to 19.2% market share, over Acer’s 18.9% share. Dell fell to 8.9%, holding third place over Toshiba’s 7.5%. Apple pulled in 5.1%, rounding out the top five.

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