PC shipments slip in the third quarter

Worldwide shipments fell 1.7% from a year ago, beating IDC projections

Computers in a high school classroom

Worldwide PC shipments fell slightly in the third quarter this year, but the drop wasn't as big as IDC had originally projected, with expanded offerings of inexpensive laptops and a saturation of tablets in some areas helping to improve the numbers, the tech industry research firm said Wednesday.

Hardware makers shipped 78.5 million desktops and laptops during the third quarter, a 1.7% drop from a year ago, but a "sizable" improvement over IDC's earlier forecast of a 4.1% drop. Windows XP migrations, which had driven earlier PC sales have slowed, but an improved business climate in some parts of the world helped prop up the numbers, IDC said.

Sales growth in the U.S. has offset declines in some other regions, IDC said. With 17.3 million PCs sold in the U.S. in the third quarter, shipments were up by 4.3% from a year earlier, and up by 2.6% from the second quarter, IDC said. The year-over-year growth in the U.S. lined up with IDC's earlier projections.

Shipments of Chromebooks and other entry-level PCs also helped keep the numbers higher than expected, IDC said. Chromebooks have driven the numbers upward in previous quarters as well.

The popularity of low-end systems, however, raises concern about the long-term viability of some hardware vendors to stay in the PC space, Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC's Worldwide PC Trackers, said in a news release.

Among PC makers, Lenovo led in worldwide shipments, increasing a slight lead over Hewlett-Packard from a year ago. In the third quarter of 2014, Lenovo shipped 15.7 million PCs, followed by HP with 14.7 million PCs and Dell with 10.4 million PCs. Lenovo held a 20% worldwide market share in this year's third quarter, compared to a 17.7% share a year ago.

Acer Group and Apple occupied the No. 4 and 5 spots during the past quarter. The five largest vendors all saw their market share grow year over year, with other vendors seeing a 17.9% decrease during that time frame.

(IDC is owned by International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service.)

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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