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Worldwide PC shipments totalled 61.7 million units in the first quarter of 2018, a 1.4% decline from the first quarter of 2017, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. The PC market experienced a 14th consecutive quarter of decline, dating back to the second quarter of 2012.
Asia/Pacific and the U.S. experienced declining shipments, while other regions saw some minimal growth, but it was not enough to drive overall growth for the PC industry. In the first quarter of 2018, PC shipments in Asia/Pacific declined 3.9% compared with the same period last year, while shipments in the U.S. decreased 2.9%.
"The major contributor to the decline came from China, where unit shipments declined 5.7% year over year," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "This was driven by China's business market, where some state-owned and large enterprises postponed new purchases or upgrades, awaiting new policies and officials' reassignments after the session of the National People's Congress in early March.
"In the first quarter of 2018, there was some inventory carryover from the fourth quarter of 2017," Ms. Kitagawa said. "At the same time, vendors were cautious in overstocking due to the upcoming release of new models in the second quarter of 2018 with Intel's new eighth-generation core processors."
The top three vendors — HP, Lenovo and Dell — accounted for 56.9% of global PC shipments in the first quarter of 2018, compared with 54.5% of shipments in the first quarter of 2017. Dell experienced the strongest growth rate among the top six vendors worldwide, as its shipments increased 6.5%.
HP Inc.'s worldwide PC shipments increased 2.8% in the first quarter of 2018 versus the same period last year. In EMEA, HP Inc. recorded double-digit growth in both desktop and mobile PCs. This was contrasted with a small decline in other regions. HP Inc. was adversely impacted by declining demand in the U.S., which generally accounts for one-third of its total shipments.
Lenovo's global PC shipments remained flat in the first quarter of 2018. Lenovo achieved 6% growth in EMEA and double-digit shipment growth in Latin America. However, in Asia/Pacific (its largest market), PC shipments declined 4%.
After record holiday sales for consumer and gaming products in the fourth quarter of 2017, Dell continued to perform well in the first quarter of 2018. With double-digit shipment increases in EMEA, North America and Latin America, Dell grew in all regions except Asia/Pacific. Desktop and mobile PCs grew in equal measures, showing Dell's strength in the business segment.
The average selling prices (ASPs) of PCs continue to rise. Acknowledging deceleration in the smartphone market, and uncertainty in PC replacement demand, component companies remain cautious about expanding their production capabilities. Therefore, persistent component shortages and a rising bill of materials continue to create an environment conductive to higher prices.
"In contrast to other DRAM-related price spikes, PC vendors are not reacting by reducing DRAM content. Rather they have passed the cost increase to consumers," Ms. Kitagawa said. "With fewer people buying new machines, manufacturers need to get the highest profit margin from each sale. To do that, they are raising the selling points and focusing on customer experience or perception of value."
In the U.S., PC shipments totalled 11.8 million units in the first quarter of 2018, a 2.9% decrease from the first quarter of 2017. Dell moved into the No. 1 position in the U.S. based on shipments, as its market share increased to 29.1%. HP Inc. moved into the No. 2 position as its shipments declined 4.8%, and its market share totalled 28.4% in the first quarter of 2018.
PC shipments in EMEA totalled 18.6 million units in the first quarter of 2018, a 1.7% increase year over year. Enterprise shipments increased as many Windows 10 projects that were put on hold in 2017 began to be implemented. The fast approach of the compliance deadline for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, as well as earlier reports of cybersecurity breaches, made security a strong priority in the hardware refresh cycle among enterprises. Eurasia continued to be a bright spot for EMEA, as several countries, such as Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, saw strong demand in the first quarter of 2018.
PC shipments in Asia/Pacific totalled 21.9 million units in the first quarter of 2018, a 3.9% decline from the first quarter of 2017. As previously mentioned, the PC market in China drove the decline in Asia/Pacific. There is no significant sign of strong upgrading to the special version of Windows 10 from the Chinese government institutions. Consumer demand was weak as most buyers already took advantage of the aggressive promotions offered in the fourth quarter of 2017.
These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner's PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing product planning, distribution, marketing and sales organizations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe.
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