When Steve Jobs said that the iPad was ushering in the “post-PC’ era, he was right. Gartner has released its PC shipment results for the third quarter of 2012, and things aren’t looking good for traditional computer makers like HP and Acer. The rise of smartphones and tablets has caused PC shipments to decline drastically in the last year, and it doesn’t look like the downwards spiral will be ending anytime soon.
“The third quarter has historically been driven by back-to-school sales, but U.S. PC shipments did not increase, not even sequentially, from the second quarter of 2012. Channels were conservative in placing orders,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Professional PC shipments in the U.S. began slowing in the second quarter of this year, and they continued the trend in the third quarter.”
Gartner attributes the decline in PC shipments to anticipation for Windows 8, Microsoft’s next desktop operating system that will be launched later this month. While Windows 8 is assuredly a factor, the real reason PCs aren’t selling is clear: people are buying smartphones and tablets instead. This shift in consumer demand has been happening for the past couple of years, and traditional PC sales continue to suffer.
On the Apple side of things, Gartner reports that the Cupertino company is perched as the number three PC vendor in the United States with 2,078,900 Mac shipments in Q3. That means Apple owns 13.6% of the PC market, while HP and Dell hold first and second place with 27% and 21.4% respectively. Apple saw a 6.1% decline in Mac shipments from Q3 of 2011, but that drop is nowhere near as bad as the other competitors. For example, Toshiba has seen a 33.4% decrease in shipments since this time last year. Ouch.
On the international level, Apple doesn’t even belong in the top 6 vendors. Lenovo leads the race in worldwide PC shipments, but the traditional “PC” is an uphill race to begin with. Apple understands what consumers want, and that is why the iPhone and iPad have both seen such phenomenal success. It will be interesting to see PC shipments this time next year after Apple unleashes the iPad mini.
Update: IDC also has similar numbers out on its PC shipment estimates for Q3:
“PCs are going through a severe slump,” said Jay Chou, senior research analyst, Worldwide PC Tracker. “The industry had already weathered a rough second quarter, and now the third quarter was even worse. A weak global economy as well as questions about PC market saturation and delayed replacement cycles are certainly a factor, but the hard question of what is the ‘it’ product for PCs remain unanswered.”