Bill Bennett


New Zealand PC sales buck global trend

IDC Research reports New Zealand PC sales fell 2.7 percent in the second quarter compared with the same period last year. This dip contrasts with plummeting sales in some overseas markets.

IDC senior market analyst Arunachalam Muthiah says 188,000 PCs were shipped1 in the first quarter of 2015.

The number is the same as the previous quarter and represents a 2.7 percent decline on the same period a year ago.

Muthiah says sales were 2.8 percent higher than forecasted.

Down, down, deeper and down

Compared with other markets overseas New Zealand’s downturn is a gentle dip. IDC reported at sharp 25.6 percent decline over the same period in the Middle East & Africa PC Market.

IDC says the global PC market will fall 8.7 percent during 2015.

Rival research company Gartner estimates global sales fell 9.5 percent in the second quarter of 2015. Gartner includes tablets in its numbers.

At IDC, which just counts PCs, the second quarter fall was 11.8 percent. This is the biggest drop in two years and underlines the steady demise of personal computers2.

Lenovo enters New Zealand PC sales top 5

New Zealand’s figure was helped by Lenovo entering the consumer PC market. Muthiah says this lead to increased competition. There was also strong spending in government and education.

He says refresh sales that may ordinarily taken place in 2015 were moved forward into 2014 after Microsoft dropped support for Windows XP.

IDC expects 2016 sales to be marginally higher than those in 2015 for New Zealand. This contrasts with the global picture where sales are expected to fall again in 2016 marking a five-year decline. IDC expects global sales to pick-up in 2017 thanks to the commercial market buying again.

Tablets can’t take the blame any more

In recent years analysts blamed the rise of mobile devices, especially tablets, for falling PC sales. That explanation is no longer valid. If anything tablet sales are now falling faster that PC sales.

While smartphone sales are not yet in decline — although that day will come — they have slowed from double-digit growth.

HP remains New Zealand’s top selling PC brand. The company accounted for almost two our of every five computers sold in the quarter with a 37 percent market share. It has been in this position for years now.

Second place goes to Acer. The company has been runner up to HP for some time. Acer has an 18 percent market share.

Apple slipped from the third slot to number four position as Lenovo stepped into the consumer market. Both companies have around a 12 percent share. Dell and Toshiba continue to face declining market share in a falling market — not an enviable position.

One thing is clear about the overall PC market, it is in a long-term decline. It may tick up some years and stand still in others, but we are now well past peak PC.

  1. Analysts talk about shipments. They are similar, not the same as sales. Shipped means a computer left the factory for the distributor or retailer. It is easier to measure. Not all shipments turn into sales. Shipments give us a consistent and more reliable number to make useful comparisons. 
  2. My take on this is that the market peaked four or five years ago as the upgrade cycle switched from two, three or four years to something longer. Many users find their existing devices are good enough for their computing needs. They have few compelling reasons to upgrade until their hardware starts to fall apart. At the same time new versions of Windows no longer trigger a fresh buying cycle.