PC shipments, tablet inventories climb

Computer laptop and tabletPut away the obituary for the vaunted personal computer, and thank the channel for the revival of notebook and desktop PC sales.

Market research firm says Canalys the overall PC market was up 5 percent in the first quarter mostly on the strength of tablet sales, but also with a resurgence of commercial PC shipments destine to replace obsolete Windows XP machines.

According to Canalys, the ongoing decline in notebook sales fell to just 7 percent in the first quarter as businesses in North America and Western Europe invest in refreshes of their older Windows XP units. Microsoft Corp. discontinued support for Windows XP in April, causing many businesses to upgrade operating systems, which often sparks a machine upgrade.

Overall, the PC market — inclusive of desktop, notebook and tablet computers — increased 5 percent compared to the first quarter of 2013. Apple Inc. leads the market in terms of sales, mostly driven by the popularity of its iPad tablet. Second is Lenovo, the global market leader in notebook computers, and, third, Hewlett-Packard Co.

Not all the news is good. While tablet sales are boosting the overall PC market, they too are suffering declines. Tablet sales, most notably of the Apple iPad, fell 21 percent in the first quarter. Apple suffered the steepest decline; while other leading tablet manufactures, mostly notably Samsung Electronics Co. and its broad line of Android tablets, also saw steep declines.

Canalys doesn’t believe tablet sales are stalled, but rather suffering from shifts in market preferences. The analyst firm notes businesses and consumers continue to adopt tablets as alternatives and complements to conventional PCs. However, Apple’s monolithic product portfolio is giving way to rivals with multiple form factors and customization options. This is causing a slowing of sales cycles and shift in sourcing.

The PC and tablet vendor to watch, Canalys says, is HP, which is coming to market with a vertical approach to tablets. New units designed for different industries and use-cases are hitting the market and show promise of driving adoption, the firm says. Lenovo also stands out with its new business-class Yoga notebook, which flips into a tablet without undocking the screen.

“Unlike Apple, with its ‘one size fits all’ tablet strategy, Lenovo and others are free to tailor tablets to specific market segments. The tablet form factor is well liked by both young and old consumers; product customization can be beneficial in both cases,” Canalys writes.

Canalys’ numbers differ from those of other analyst firms, including Gartner and IDC, because it bundles tablets and PC sales together. Canalys differs in its accounting and forecast, showing a much stronger PC segment than its peers. Solution providers’ experience more closely resembles that of Canalys, as they report strong increases in PC sales as customers upgrade machines to take advantage of new applications and cloud services.

This article originally appeared on Channelnomics.com.