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PC sales fall again as Asian vendors Acer and Asus feel the pain

Gartner numbers show heavy Q3 falls

PC sales are falling but is everyone being hurt equally? According to Gartner's numbers for Q3 2013, much of the sales pain is now being felt by Asian vendors Acer and Asus.

According to the analyst, year-on-year global PC sales fell 8.6 percent in the third quarter to 80.3 million units, the sixth quarter in a row that sales have fallen. Only days ago, IDC reported similar drops of 7.6 percent so the waning of the PCs is not a major surprise.

Gartner's numbers also show precipitous 22.6 year-on-year drop for Acer, matched by an almost identical 22.5 percent drop for rival Asus, taking their market shares down to 8.3 percent and 6.1 percent respectively.

The fact that the more enterprise-oriented market share leader Lenovo recorded a 2.8 percent increase, with HP and Dell also held steady reinforces the view that business sales of PCs are holding up while the consumer sector plummets.

"The third quarter is often referred to as the 'back-to-school' quarter for PC sales, and sales this quarter dropped to their lowest volume since 2008," said Gartner principal analyst, Mikako Kitagawa.

"Consumers' shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets. A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets."

The drops for Acer and Asus were also connected to the end of interest in netbooks, which affected unit sales.

US sales actually help up fairly well despite a 2.6 percent drop recorded by Apple. Quarterly shipments totalled 16.1 million units, a 3.5 percent year-on-year increase; Gartner said it believed that the appearance of Intel's Haswell chips had contributed to this rise.

The next quarter in which Windows 8.1 will have made its appearance will be closely watched. If that fails to show a sales boost then the fate of the PC could be sealed under 'legacy platform'.

As for Acer and Asus, the falling numbers in PCs might actually be a symptom of a longer-term adjustment to tablets, smartphones, Chromebooks and other hybrid devices. Having made that adjustment earlier than their rivals, they might yet have the last laugh.

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