Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Did PC Sales Just Bounce Off the Bottom? Not Quite.

It wasn’t so long ago that if you had asked the folks at the tech research house Gartner about their predictions for PC sales in the first quarter, they would have hit you with a pretty gloomy scenario: Sales, Gartner said, would fall by 1.2 percent.

It turns out they did nothing of the kind. In fact, PC sales grew by almost 2 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Perhaps that’s not saying much. Last year, you’ll remember, was nothing less than the second-worst year for sales in the history of the PC industry after 2001 — except at Apple, which, no surprise, turned in its best year for Mac sales ever. Perhaps it might have been more realistic to predict a bounce-off-the-bottom moment.

Anyhow, here’s what Gartner saw and what its analysts think about it:

Europe and the Middle East did better than expected and grew by almost 7 percent. Asia was below expectations and emerging markets slowed down generally.

Also, the hard drive supply problem brought on by the floods in Thailand didn’t cause nearly as many problems as some had expected. As Gartner’s Mikako Kitagawa put it: “In general, the hard-disk drive supply shortage had a limited impact on PC supply during 1Q12. There was a moderate impact on selected markets, such as low-end consumer notebooks and the white-box market in selected regions. Still, low PC demand was able to mask the tight hard drive supply overall.”

So who led the market? Look at the tables. Worldwide market is first:

Lenovo grew the most, boosting its shipments by more than 28 percent, and was strong in the EMEA market, where growth was higher than expected generally. Dell underperformed, Gartner says, and saw declines in Asia year over year.

And now the U.S. market:

Overall, as you can see, the market declined by 3.5 percent. Dell’s share fell by nearly 4 percent, while HP and Apple grew. Acer’s share fell by an eye-popping 25 percent and change.

Not a bounce, at least not as far as the U.S. is concerned.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik