Hold onto your hat: Notebook shipments actually showed a gain for the first time in a year and a half.
In a report released Thursday, research firm NPD DisplaySearch cited preliminary results showing second-quarter worldwide notebook shipments of 45.1 million units, a rise of 1 percent over the same period in 2013. Though 1 percent growth is nothing to write home about, at least the number is evidence of some improvement in a market that's been moribund for quite some time.
Overall PC sales, including notebooks, have been on a downward trend for the past several years for several reasons. Competition from mobile phones and tablets has been one of the biggest factors impeding the growth of PC shipments. Consumers have also been less motivated to replace their PCs on a regular basis, preferring instead to hold onto their existing units. And the poor response to Windows 8 failed to convince enough people to rush out and buy brand new PCs equipped with Microsoft's latest OS.
What accounted for the gain in shipments last quarter? Well, the PC replacement factor now seems to be lending a helping hand.
"North America and Western Europe have improved to positive double digit growth, due to a combination of commercial PC replacement cycles and Windows XP migration in 2014," NPD analyst Hisakazu Torii said in a statement. "The notebook PC market has also benefited from the launch of Chromebooks and other low-priced notebook PCs."
Among the top notebook vendors, Lenovo stole the lead from Hewlett-Packard with strong year-over-year growth of 36 percent. Lenovo's share of the global notebook market jumped to 18 percent last quarter from 14 percent in the second quarter of 2013, thanks in part to strong sales in Europe, China, and Latin America.
Over the same time, HP's share rose to 17 percent to 16 percent, a gain of 13 percent. In third place was Asus, followed by Dell and then Acer. Asus swiped the No. 3 spot from Dell due to higher shipments across Europe, China, and Asia. Among the top players, only Acer was hit by a decline in shipments, dropping to 10 percent from 11 percent.
Altogether, notebook shipment growth for the top five players reached 16 percent last quarter, a healthy improvement over the 20 percent drop seen in the same quarter a year ago.