The credit crisis came home to roost for the global PC market in the fourth quarter of 2008, ending a sustained period when sales seemed to defy economic gravity, according to iSuppli.
“Although consumers around the world started to feel the full impact of the credit crisis in the third quarter of 2008, this phenomenon didn’t negatively impact PC sales,” observed Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at iSuppli.
“However, by the fourth quarter, even the PC market succumbed to economic reality, with shipments declining by 1.5 % compared to the third quarter.”
Global PC shipments amounted to 77.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2008, down from 79.1 million in the third quarter.
“The impact of the credit crunch is clearly apparent in the PC shipments, given that the historical average for sequential fourth-quarter PC growth is in the region of 10 %,” Wilkins added. The sequential decline in shipments is a factor of the limited availability of credit, for both businesses and consumers. As a result, the money that is available must be used sparingly, leaving less for PC purchases.”
Notebooks Drive Growth
Despite the lower-than-expected performance of the PC market in the fourth quarter, full-year 2008 shipments yielded impressive growth of 11.6 %, reaching 299.4 million units, up from 268.4 million in 2007. This compares to 12.4 % growth in 2007.
The strong rise in 2008 PC shipments was entirely generated by strong demand for notebooks. Notebook PC unit shipments rose by 35 % in 2008, up from 30 % in 2007.
Meanwhile, desktop PC shipments declined by 4 % in 2008, compared to 3 % growth in 2007.
“In the PC market, mobility is king,” Wilkins said. “This is because the prices, features, performance, and convenience of mobile PCs are striking a chord with both consumer and business users. The results in 2008 illustrate what is likely to happen for years to come—declining sales of desktops and rising volume for notebooks.”
Global notebook PC shipments exceeded those of desktops on a quarterly basis for the first time ever in the third quarter of 2008, marking a watershed event in the history of the industry.
The trend continued in the fourth quarter, with notebook shipments exceeding those of desktops by 3 %.
However, for the entire year of 2008, desktop shipments exceeded those of notebooks by 9 %.
Due to the rapidly changing market conditions, iSuppli has revised its full year 2009 unit growth forecast to 0.7 %, down from 4.3 % before.
“iSuppli expects an acceleration of the decline in the desktop segment in 2009, along with a reduction of the growth rate in the notebook segment, leading to weak growth for the year,” Wilkins said.
Top PC Ranks Hold Steady in Q4
The rankings of the Top-5 PC makers remained the same in the fourth quarter compared to the third.
Hewlett-Packard Co. retained its No.-1 ranking in the fourth quarter of 2008, with shipments of 14.5 million, and a market share of 18.6 %. Dell Inc. maintained its second-place ranking with shipments of 10.3 million, giving the company a market share of 13.2 %. Rounding out the Top-3 was Acer, with a market share of 11.8 % resulting from shipments of 9.2 million units during the quarter. The other Top-5 PC OEMs were Lenovo and Toshiba, ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, with market shares of 7.1 and 4.7 %.
Acer Advances in 2008
For the full-year 2008, Acer achieved growth well in excess of the overall industry, at 57.9 %, while the No.-1 and No.-2 ranked PC OEMs—Hewlett-Packard and Dell—experienced growth in line with the overall industry, at 12.9 and 9.5 %, respectively.
Outside the Top 10, ASUS and Apple Inc. both made notable advances in 2008, with ASUS expanding its shipments by 145 %, and Apple by 30 %.
“ASUS played a crucial role in expanding the fast-growing netbook segment, clearly boosting the company’s performance,” Wilkins said. “Apple benefited from the boom in consumer PC shipments in 2008.”
while consumers started feeling th heat towards the 3rd quarter laste year, the 4th quarter unravelled the crisis in the PC industry