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U.S. PC Market Wraps Up Worst Year Since 2001

By - Source: IDC | B 45 comments

With a brutal fourth quarter, PC vendors concluded a tough year for the industry.

In the U.S. Compared to Q4 2010, PC shipments dropped by 6.7 percent from 19.9 million units to 18.6 million. HP held on to its leading rank, but sold only 4.3 million PCs during the quarter, which was down 25.3 percent from 2010. Dell was down by 4.7 percent to 4.2 million, but Apple beat the trend and climbed by 18 percent to 2.0 million PCs. Acer dropped to number 5 with 1.5 million PCs, behind Toshiba with 1.9 million.

According to IDC, the shortage of hard drives and increasing competition from media tablets impacted the industry, and added to the already fragile economic climate. Globally, the PC industry sold 92.7 million Units, a decline of 0.2 percent year-over-year. For the entire year, U.S. PC sales were down 4.9 percent to 71.3 million units, while global demand climbed by 1.6 percent to 352.4 million PCs.

"In the United States, market saturation and the economic environment continue to weigh considerably on consumer demand. However, the market is awaiting new products and technologies, promising a new refresh cycle starting in 3Q12 and beyond with a return to positive growth in the mid-term," said David Daoud, research director, Personal Computing at IDC. According to IDC, 2011 was, behind 2001, the "second worst year in history" for the U.S. market.

In contrast, Europe and Asia/Pacfic performed "a little stronger" than expected, the market research firm said.

For the first quarter of this year, IDC expects the market to slow even more as the impact of the hard drive shortage is now felt on a broad basis. However, as the industry bounces back, PC makers are forecast to gain about 15 percent in shipments by the fourth quarter. 2012 shipments are currently forecast at 371 million, an increase of 5.4 percent over 2011. 2013 is predicted to achieve growth "in high teens" during the first half of the year.

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  • 18 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 13, 2012 11:44 AM
    GoldengoosePeople are also building their own desktops more and more now (or getting a friend to build it for them) - Could be interesting to compare these results to those of CPU+motherboards etc etc and see what sort of sales they are pulling in.


    We posted at the same time. Last figures I saw indicate DIY pc's are a very very tiny drop in a great big bucket.
  • 15 Hide
    Onus , January 13, 2012 12:25 PM
    PC hardware is now so powerful that, except for the tiny fraction of PC users who are hardcore gamers or independent design or video mavens, there is no rational need to upgrade a whole PC every year any more; even the gamers can often be satisfied with a GPU (and maybe PSU) upgrade. Even less expensive mobos now include solid caps and other features for longevity.
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , January 13, 2012 12:15 PM
    There is no innovation to drive PC sales. I have had the same pc for 5 years now, and see no need to upgrade any time soon. The are no killer-apps to drive sales like we had in the 90's.
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    Goldengoose , January 13, 2012 11:42 AM
    People are also building their own desktops more and more now (or getting a friend to build it for them) - Could be interesting to compare these results to those of CPU+motherboards etc etc and see what sort of sales they are pulling in.
  • 12 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 13, 2012 11:42 AM
    Looks like the data is for off the shelf brands rather than DIY.
  • 12 Hide
    halls , January 13, 2012 11:43 AM
    I would be really curious to see how sales of individual parts have changed over the years. Can't say I'm too surprised by this news, I know a lot of people who are jumping on the tablet bandwagon.
  • 18 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 13, 2012 11:44 AM
    GoldengoosePeople are also building their own desktops more and more now (or getting a friend to build it for them) - Could be interesting to compare these results to those of CPU+motherboards etc etc and see what sort of sales they are pulling in.


    We posted at the same time. Last figures I saw indicate DIY pc's are a very very tiny drop in a great big bucket.
  • 6 Hide
    Netherscourge , January 13, 2012 11:55 AM
    Smartphones and Tablets killed the PC star.

  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , January 13, 2012 12:15 PM
    There is no innovation to drive PC sales. I have had the same pc for 5 years now, and see no need to upgrade any time soon. The are no killer-apps to drive sales like we had in the 90's.
  • -6 Hide
    warezme , January 13, 2012 12:18 PM
    since the majority of people are to stupid to do more than surf the web and tweet, yea it would make sense that phones and tablets would sell more. Plus you can't spit in any direction without hitting a news commentator talking about this tablet or that smartphone. I'm tired of hearing about both of them and have no desire to own either. The only reason my phone is smart is because you can't hardly buy one that isn't anymore. There is no smartphone or tablet that can do what a real computer can do but dumb people don't realize that.
  • 15 Hide
    Onus , January 13, 2012 12:25 PM
    PC hardware is now so powerful that, except for the tiny fraction of PC users who are hardcore gamers or independent design or video mavens, there is no rational need to upgrade a whole PC every year any more; even the gamers can often be satisfied with a GPU (and maybe PSU) upgrade. Even less expensive mobos now include solid caps and other features for longevity.
  • 0 Hide
    Tmanishere , January 13, 2012 12:31 PM
    Good: Won't have to keep upgrading the PC as often.

    Bad: The technological leap for PC will be very slow or expensive because of low demand.
  • 2 Hide
    stormblade42 , January 13, 2012 12:46 PM
    The majority of people just want to surf the web and watch Youtube. How much PC do they reallyneed for that if they have one that is already 2-4 years old, maybe even longer? They have no reason to upgrade to today's or tomorrow's PC to do that. All they need is broadband for a decent experience.
  • 4 Hide
    back_by_demand , January 13, 2012 12:47 PM
    NetherscourgeSmartphones and Tablets killed the PC star.

    But only in the USA apparently, and seeing as Smartphones and Tablets are also sold to the other 95% of the worlds population and PC growth was up there as well, I would say the problem lies with the USA, not with the PC industry.
  • -1 Hide
    classzero , January 13, 2012 12:48 PM
    Mean while Apple posts best ever. Don't hate me, just stating.

    http://gigaom.com/apple/macs-still-growing-while-rest-of-u-s-pc-market-stagnates/

    Don't flame me, I have purchased both a Mac and Wintel PC this year. Have you?
  • 6 Hide
    Camikazi , January 13, 2012 12:56 PM
    ClasszeroMean while Apple posts best ever. Don't hate me, just stating.http://gigaom.com/apple/macs-still [...] stagnates/Don't flame me, I have purchased both a Mac and Wintel PC this year. Have you?

    I built maybe 10 PCs for friends and family this year, I bet those weren't counted and neither were the other many, many, many DIY PCs built last year.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , January 13, 2012 12:56 PM
    ClasszeroMean while Apple posts best ever. Don't hate me, just stating.http://gigaom.com/apple/macs-still [...] stagnates/Don't flame me, I have purchased both a Mac and Wintel PC this year. Have you?

    I can't seem to find the stats for Apple Mac sales worldwide, as the story was refering to US sales and global sales being down and up respectively, does Mac have US sales versus global sales being up and down respectively?
    Any links you can post to show would be nice so we can get the whole story.
  • 1 Hide
    RipperjackAU , January 13, 2012 1:13 PM
    NetherscourgeSmartphones and Tablets killed the PC star.


    I thought it was CRAP games and shovelware, free-2-play, world of warcraft clones tht killed the PC star.
  • 2 Hide
    halls , January 13, 2012 1:45 PM
    warezmesince the majority of people are to stupid to do more than surf the web and tweet...


    Too "stupid"? Not everyone's line of work involves digital content creation. Being able to consume media is all some people need.
  • 0 Hide
    pale paladin , January 13, 2012 1:49 PM
    What many people do not understand is that 4+ year old architecture is enough for most people. A C2D or AMD dual core scales well enough for most computer users that they do not feel the need to upgrade. Furthermore the minimal cost to upgrade memory allows people to keep their HPs Dells or whatever to last much longer.
  • 1 Hide
    Ragnar-Kon , January 13, 2012 1:53 PM
    I doubt DIY projects were up this year enough to truly affect the numbers by more than 1%.

    I would point the change more towards the shift toward tablets for consumers, and a decision to keep older PCs in businesses.
    At work (University) we typically buy a whole new set of PCs every 3 years to ensure PCs are always on warranty. Due to rather large budget cuts, we have opted not to buy new PCs even though our PCs have been off of warranty for more than 2 years now.

    As for the increase in Apple computers, they are simply doing well right now. They are the trending brand. I congratulate them and hope they continue to grow. Doesn't matter if you think Apple is the root of all evil or not; the way I see it, the extra competition from Apple will do nothing but help the consumer PC industry try to scramble and catch back up.
  • 2 Hide
    jackbling , January 13, 2012 1:54 PM
    hallsToo "stupid"? Not everyone's line of work involves digital content creation. Being able to consume media is all some people need.


    If you aren't gaming, you are doing it wrong ;p
  • 1 Hide
    freggo , January 13, 2012 2:20 PM
    That was bound to happen.
    There is a point where the PC gets fast enough to handle everything the 'average' user needs.
    That means he/she will stop upgrading and only replacing if broken.

    So unless we find something else to do for our computers that current technology can not handle this will be a continuing trend in the domestic sales numbers.

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