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PC makers tighten inventories, remain edgy about Windows 10

Gregg Keizer | July 13, 2015
Even as PC business contracts for 14th straight quarter, Mac sales surge 16 percent.

Because Microsoft has never before offered a free upgrade of this magnitude, it's uncharted territory for Windows OEMs. A host of unknowns, ranging from whether the free upgrade will keep significant numbers on old hardware to the eventual reaction to the new OS, have made computer makers edgy about committing to fully packing the channel.

"It's even riskier when the market is declining," Loverde said of carrying large inventories.

And the PC business has been in decline, and will continue to contract.

IDC has held to its prediction that for 2015, global PC shipments will be down 6.2% from last year's 308 million, or to around 289 million. (That may change to an even more depressing number; Loverde said IDC had not yet adjusted the figure to account for the worse-than-expected second quarter.) In 2016, the industry will shrink by another 2%.

The brightest spot in the quarter's forecast was again Apple, which IDC had in the OEM fourth spot with shipments of 5.1 million Macs, a year-over-year jump of 16%. Other manufacturers in the top five -- Lenovo, HP, Dell and Acer -- were pegged with declines of 8%, 10%, 9% and 27%, respectively.

"Apple's a pretty unique company," said Loverde. "They've cultivated their market position and product portfolio, and, of course, they're positioning is towards more affluent buyers who are not as price sensitive."

Loverde was convinced that some of the Mac's strong sales in the June quarter benefited from uncertainties about Windows 10 on the part of consumers.

Unclear, said Loverde, is how the Mac will fare if, as IDC and others believe, Apple introduces a larger iPad later this year, a tablet better geared to the productivity chores typically handled by personal computers.

"I think there will be some impact on Mac shipments, but Apple is always willing to cannibalize its own products," he said. "But the upside on tablets [generated by a larger iPad] and as a brand is bigger than the risk."

 

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