The US personal-computer market fell for the first time in a decade last year, on sluggish consumer spending, supply shortages, and the popularity of smartphones and tablets.
Shipments were down 4.9 per cent to 71.3 million in 2011, the worst performance since 2001, according to research firm IDC. The US market was down 6.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, as against a 0.2 per cent drop for worldwide shipments. A separate report from Gartner Inc pegged fourth-quarter US decline at 5.9 per cent, with global shipments falling 1.4 per cent.
Consumers and small businesses are holding back orders as they negotiate the sluggish markets, even as many corporate buyers stock up on PCs. Gartner found that the flood in Thailand took a toll on the market, but the bigger impact due to component shortages would be felt in 2012.
According to David Daoud, an analyst at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC, the culprit was the consumer. He added that consumers and small businesses were the ones that were struggling the most.
Worldwide shipments were down at 92.7 million in the fourth quarter, from 92.9 million a year earlier, according to IDC. Gartner put the number at 92.2 million, as against 93.5 million. In 2001, when the industry was hit by a recession coupled with the dot-com bust, US PC shipments plunged around 12 per cent.
Hewlett-Packard Co, after its October decision to keep its PC business in house rather than a potential spinoff, held its position as the industry's top seller in the fourth quarter. (See also: HP not to sell its $40.7-bn PC division)