PCs

Slumping sales of PCs in the fourth quarter last year are further evidence of a structural shift in the PC market rather than simply a weak economy, say Gartner analysts.

Worldwide PC shipments totalled 90.3m units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 4.9 per cent decline from the fourth quarter of 2011 while PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell by 9.6 per cent, according to preliminary results from Gartner.

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Sarah Mishkin

Asus sales rise to $3.8bn

Asustek’s latest results confirm that the Taiwan-based company has some reason to feel as optimistic as it does. Its tablet sales, both of the Nexus 7 and its other convertible tabs, are already doing well, and, looking forward, reviewers and analysts have been relative positive on the new Windows 8 devices it launched this week.

A few weeks ago, its competitor Acer reported an 11 per cent fall in revenue, and global PC shipments are down more than 8 per cent this quarter. For the third-quarter, however, Taiwan-based Asus said its sales were up 9.2 per cent year-on-year to NT$111bn ($3.8bn), slightly more than analysts had been expecting. Read more

Some good news for Acer — the PC-maker narrowly edged out Lenovo and HP as the largest notebook PC seller globally last quarter, writes Sarah Mishkin in Taipei.

Narrow here means narrow. Acer now has 15.4 per cent of the market. Tied for second place are Lenovo and HP, which each have 15.3 per cent, according to new research from Gartner.  Read more

Joseph Menn

Smack in the middle of the ultrabook and tablet hoopla from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas comes a sobering report from the market researchers at IDC: PC shipments in the critical fourth quarter were down 0.2 per cent from a year before. Read more

Richard Waters

Nearly ten years to the day since it doubled down on the PC business with the purchase of Compaq, Hewlett-Packard has decided that its shareholders have been through enough. As we and others are reporting, new CEO Leo Apotheker is ready to change course with a PC spin-off and giant software deal that will radically reshape the tech conglomerate. Read more

Laptops are becoming interesting for Arm again, admits its president Tudor Brown, despite the bevy of increasingly powerful Arm-based tablet models shown at this year’s Computex. Read more

Intel’s vision of a new category of ‘Ultrabooks’ that would revolutionise the consumer PC industry has won over at least one important convert.

Speaking at a separate press conference just minutes after Intel’s keynote speech, Ray Chen, president of Taiwan’s Compal, the world’s second-biggest contract PC maker, praised the idea of Ultrabooks and said it would “ignite the next wave of laptop replacements” next year when those new models come onto the market. Read more

Critics like to say that PC makers were slow to recognise the threat from tablets and to respond with their own versions to rival Apple’s iPad.

This narrative may be the popular one, but it underestimates the challenges faced by traditional PC makers in coming up with a competitive and profitable tablet, Henry Lu, senior vice president of Micro-Star International, told the Financial Times. Read more

If there was still any doubt that events have taken a definite turn for the worse for PC makers since the end of last year, February revenue numbers from the world’s biggest contract manufacturers should put them to rest.

Hon Hai, maker of Apple products (and also desktops for Dell), saw revenues fall by 18 per cent month-on-month. Taiwan’s Compal and Quanta, the top two contract notebook makers, saw revenues decline by 18 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, compared to January. All came in well below analysts’ expectations. Read more

The outlook for consumer PC sales for the rest of the year is getting murkier and murkier. A drop-off in US sales in July, followed by continued weakness in early August despite the traditionally bountiful back-to-school season, has already started ringing alarm bells among analysts.

 

Now there’s additional evidence, from the world’s biggest notebook casing manufacturer, that any quick uplift in end demand is unlikely . Ju Teng makes the outer shell of a notebook – a manufacturing process that involves more than 300 steps and 400 different materials – for all the world’s top PC brands.

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