Global PC shipments return to growth in Q3 2009, says Gartner

Stamford, Conn. — Global PC shipments returned to growth in the third quarter of 2009, according to the latest report by Gartner Inc. The report indicates that the U.S. and Asia/Pacific show signs of a PC recovery, while the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region still struggles.

The PC industry performed better than expected as worldwide PC shipments totaled 80.9 million units in the third quarter of 2009, a 0.5 percent increase from the third quarter of 2008, according to Gartner’s preliminary results. Gartner had expected PC shipments to decline 5.6 percent in the quarter.

“These are good results especially given that PC shipments for the third quarter of 2009 are being compared to a very strong third quarter from 2008,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “Sequentially, third quarter shipments grew 18 percent, which is higher than the historical seasonal growth from the second to third quarter.”

Kitagawa attributes the unit shipment growth to low-priced mobile PCs for the consumer market. She said ongoing price declines continue to be a key issue in the PC industry. “PC vendor performance cannot be determined solely by unit market share gains alone as related revenues and margin performance are key to surviving in very competitive market,” she stated.

Hewlett-Packard continued to lead the worldwide PC market as its shipment growth exceeded the worldwide average, according to the report. HP did well in Asia/Pacific, particularly in China, although HP’s shipments declined in the EMEA region, but it was less of a drop compared to the EMEA average, said Gartner.


Gartner analysts said the launch of Microsoft’s latest operating system (OS), Windows 7, should have a minimal impact on PC unit growth. But inventory adjustments around the launch could artificially impact shipment volumes during the third and fourth quarters of 2009. Kitagawa doesn’t expect Windows 7 adoption to ramp up until late 2010 in the corporate market, though she anticipates hardware upgrades from consumers and small business during the holiday season.

In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 17.8 million units in the third quarter of 2009, a 3.9 percent increase from the third quarter of last year, following three consecutive quarters of year-on-year shipment declines.

Kitagawa said the consumer mobile PC market drove U.S. growth in the third quarter fueled by back to school sales, but it came with revenue loss due to steep declines in average selling prices (ASPs). Gartner’s preliminary research shows consumer mobile PC ASPs fell by more than 20 percent compared to one year ago.

Dell maintained its No. 1 position in PC shipments in the U.S., however its shipments declined 8.9 percent in the quarter, according to the report. Gartner analysts said this could be attributed to Dell emphasizing profit protection rather than market share expansion.


The EMEA PC market had a double-digit decline for the third quarter of 2009, according to Gartner analysts. PC shipments in EMEA totaled 26 million units, a 10.1 percent decrease from the same period in 2008. Central Eastern Europe was the weakest area, followed by Western Europe and then Middle East and Africa, according to the report.

PC shipments in Asia/Pacific totaled 25.2 million units in the third quarter of 2009, a 16.1 percent increase from the third quarter of 2008, which Gartner attributes to the surge in PC shipments in China and emerging markets in South East Asia that registered strong double-digit growth rates. Gartner estimates that the PC market in China has grown 28.5 percent in the third quarter of 2009.

In Latin America, PC shipments totaled 6.9 million units in the third quarter of 2009, a decline of 3.9 percent, from the same period last year; however, fourth quarter unit shipments are expected to grow at 29.6 percent, according to Gartner.

PC shipments in Japan totaled 3.2 million units in the third quarter of 2009, a 15.1 percent decline with both the professional and consumer markets showing weakness, said Gartner. The consumer market declined 13.8 percent in the quarter, after nine consecutive quarters of year-on-year growth, according to the report.