PC shipments down just slightly in the third quarter, IDC says

Worldwide shipments fell 1.7 per cent from a year ago, beating IDC projections

Worldwide PC shipments fell slightly in the third quarter this year, but the drop wasn't as big as IDC had originally projected, with expanded offerings of inexpensive laptops and a saturation of tablets in some areas helping to improve the numbers, the tech industry research firm said.

Hardware makers shipped 78.5 million desktops and laptops during the third quarter, a 1.7 per cent drop from a year ago, but a "sizeable" improvement over IDC's earlier forecast of a 4.1 per cent drop. Windows XP migrations, which had driven earlier PC sales have slowed, but an improved business climate in some parts of the world helped prop up the numbers, IDC said.

Sales growth in the US has offset declines in some other regions, IDC said. With 17.3 million PCs sold in the US. in the third quarter, shipments were up by 4.3 per cent from a year earlier, and up by 2.6 per cent from the second quarter, IDC said. The year-over-year growth in the US lined up with IDC's earlier projections.

Shipments of Chromebooks and other entry-level PCs also helped keep the numbers higher than expected, IDC said. Chromebooks have driven the numbers upward in previous quarters as well.

The popularity of low-end systems, however, raises concern about the long-term viability of some hardware vendors to stay in the PC space, Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC's Worldwide PC Trackers, said in a news release.

Among PC makers, Lenovo led in worldwide shipments, increasing a slight lead over Hewlett-Packard from a year ago. In the third quarter of 2014, Lenovo shipped 15.7 million PCs, followed by HP with 14.7 million PCs and Dell with 10.4 million PCs. Lenovo held a 20 per cent worldwide market share in this year's third quarter, compared to a 17.7 per cent share a year ago.

Acer Group and Apple occupied the No. 4 and No. 5 spots during the past quarter. The five largest vendors all saw their market share grow year over year, with other vendors seeing a 17.9 per cent decrease during that time frame.

(IDC is owned by International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service.)

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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