Over the past two years, the growing popularity of mobile devices has eaten into PC sales. A new report by Gartner, however, shows that shipments may continue to enjoy a very slow but steady uptick this year as tablet sales hit a peak. The research firm found that worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 grew one percent year-over-year, the first increase since 2012.
Shipment volumes growth, however, differed dramatically from region to region. For example, in the U.S., PC shipments in 4Q2014 increased 13.1 percent year-over-year, the fastest increase in four years, thanks to holiday purchases. Inexpensive laptops (about $200 to $300), thin and light notebooks, and laptops with a detachable screen helped drive growth.
Meanwhile, in the Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), 4Q2014 shipment volumes grew a relatively slim 2.8 percent to 26.5 million units. The increase was due in large part by Western European consumers, who purchased low price notebooks, as well as tablet-laptop combos. Shipments in the Asia-Pacific also grew more slowly than in the U.S., increasing two percent to 26.6 million units in 4Q2014. Buyers in those markets still preferred to purchase smartphones or tablets instead of investing in a laptop or desktop computer.
“Users here are more focused on content consumption or on specific tasks where functions can be handled by a smartphone. Coupled with limited disposable income, these buyers are delaying PC purchases if they do not see a need, therefore making the consumer market more lackluster than it used to be,” wrote Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.
Lenovo continued to be the number one PC maker in terms of shipment volume, with a 19.4 percent market share in 4Q2014. HP began to catch up, however, with its slice of the market growing to 18.8 percent, because it performed better in EMEA and the Asia-Pacific region than Lenovo. Dell continued to hold onto third place with a 12.7 percent market share. Acer Group and ASUS were in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
PC shipments have steadily improved since the middle of last year as users replace older devices or become frustrated with the limitations of tablets.
That doesn’t mean, however, that demand for tablets is on the wane. In an earlier report, Gartner forecast that tablets would overtake PC sales this year.