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PCs turn the tide; shipments up in second quarter

IDC says worldwide PC shipments were up 2.6 percent in the second quarter of 2011 after disappointing results in the first quarter.

Worldwide PC shipments were up during the last quarter, but the market is still having some trouble getting going, a new report from research firm IDC indicates.

During the second quarter of 2011, worldwide PC shipments were up 2.6 percent to 84.4 million units, just shy of the firm's expected 2.9 percent growth.

HP still rules the PC market.
HP still rules the PC market. HP

A key component in the slow growth was sales performance in the U.S. According to IDC, U.S. PC shipments were down 4.2 percent year over year to 17.8 million units. However, losses in the U.S. were made up by blistering 12 percent growth in the Asia/Pacific region, excluding Japan.

Once again, HP led the way in worldwide PC shipments last quarter, sending out 15.2 million devices to store shelves and capturing 18 percent market share, according to IDC. The company's shipments were up 3 percent year over year.

Dell scored the second spot in PC shipments last quarter with 2.8 percent growth and 12.9 percent market share, thanks to its 10.9 million shipments. Lenovo beat Acer to score the third spot with 12.2 percent market share on 10.2 million units shipped, representing a 22.9 percent gain year over year.

Acer's 9.1 million shipments were down 10.1 percent in the second quarter, helping the company secure 10.9 percent share.

Although things could have been better for PC makers, their second-quarter performance was markedly better than the first quarter.

IDC reported in April that overall shipments were down 3.2 percent year over year to 80.6 million PCs. HP saw its shipments drop 2.8 percent during the period, while Dell's shipments fell 1.8 percent. Acer's shipments plummeted by 15.8 percent. In the U.S., Acer's PC shipments were down 42 percent.

At the time, IDC blamed the decline in PC shipments on several factors, including tablets. The company said that consumers were looking for "good-enough computing" and they found that in devices like Apple's iPad.

Though debate rages over whether tablets and PCs should be compared, the reality is that consumers need to decide which market gets their money. And considering tablets offer Web browsing, e-mail, and applications to extend their usability, the number of reasons to choose a PC over a tablet aren't necessarily as high as they once were.

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IDC research analyst Rajani Singh echoed that sentiment today in his company's discussion on U.S. PC shipments. Singh pointed out that although several factors are influencing the drop in U.S. shipments, including a declining Netbook market, "consumer interest [is shifting] to media tablets."

That's why IDC is so bullish on the future of tablets. Just last week, IDC released its findings on tablet shipments so far this year, and although they were down in the first quarter by 28 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2010, 7.2 million tablets still hit store shelves during the period. More importantly, the research firm revised its forecast from its initial estimate of 50.4 million units shipped worldwide this year to 53.5 million.

But that doesn't mean the PC market will contract. Last month, IDC said it expects worldwide PC shipments to be up 4.2 percent this year. Next year, it sees worldwide PC shipments growing 10.2 percent.

"The PC market has definitely hit a slow patch," Loren Loverde, vice president of IDC's Worldwide Consumer Device Trackers, said in a statement last month. "Nevertheless, the long-term growth drivers--first among [them]... growth in emerging markets, declining prices, and growing functionality--remain intact, and the product and design innovations under way will keep PC growth healthy in the long term."