iSuppli: Go Ahead & Blame Lower Q1 PC Sales on iPad

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PC sales definitely declined year-over-year during the March quarter, and IHS iSuppli said that media tablets in general, and the iPad in particular, were responsible. This is in stark contrast to NPD’s take on the same quarter, when that company said that the iPad was not to blame for falling PC sales.

The difference in the two opinions is that NPD found that only a small number of iPad owners had foregone a purchase of a PC, while iSuppli said that Apple’s iPad and a proliferation of competing products created confusion with consumers as they tried to figure out just what to make of this new category of devices.

“The increasing momentum of the media tablet market, led by the iPad, is creating a difficult environment for the PC industry,” Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms research at IHS, said in a statement. “All the attention surrounding tablets contributed to weak consumer demand for PCs in the first quarter.”

This isn’t necessarily a permanent condition, however, and the firm specifically stipulated that it is not yet known if media tablets will continue to eat into PC sales. In addition, there is a difference between “cannibalizing PC sales” and causing consumers to pause for the short term while they think about what they want or need.

“IHS believes that the jury is still out on exactly how much tablets are cannibalizing PC sales,” Mr. Wilkins said. “However, the rising number of tablet models on the market, along with certain high-profile product launches during the first quarter, caused confusion among consumers as to exactly how to view the tablet platform relative to the PC platform. This contributed to the PC sales decline in the first quarter.”

Permanent or not, iSuppli’s take is that Apple’s iPad put the hurt on PC sales during the March quarter. In particular, Acer, which had exploded in the prior two years on the strength of its netbook sales, saw first quarter unit sales “plunge” 20.4%. In fact, the top three PC makers all saw unit sales decreased according to the company, with #1 HP declining 2.1%, and #2 Dell declining 1.8%.

PC makers Lenovo (15.4%) and Toshiba (2.6%), #4 and #5 respectively, both saw increases. Apple did not make the top five in global PC sales — though the Mac maker reported a 28% increase during the quarter, it still doesn’t ship enough units to be ranked globally.

The chart below shows Q1 year-over year sales

iSuppli Chart

Chart by The Mac Observer from data supplied by IHS iSuppli

All of the top five PC makers saw sequential declines in sales, as shown below.

iSuppli Chart

Chart by The Mac Observer from data supplied by IHS iSuppli

Finally, we put together a pie chart showing the market share of the top five global PC brands, along with the Others, which include Apple.

iSuppli Chart

Chart by The Mac Observer from data supplied by IHS iSuppli



Thought my eyes were going wonky, Brian. Actually had to go back to check who wrote this article, suspecting it was ye having fun with your graphs. Cool.

I know two people who were thinking of getting a netbook but decided to try out the iPad 2 instead. Both are happy and not thinking of getting the other. My sister got an iP2 and hasn’t used her MBP since getting it. I keep complaining about my MB hoping the thought lodges a sudden flirtation with generosity.

But, I do suspect the economy may have something to do with the lack of spending on computers at the moment.


‘She loves me, she loves me not; jubilation, she loves me again…’

In the world of surveillance, as difficult as it is to collect and then analyse good data, the still harder part is interpretation - what do the data tell us.

Though one can argue that NPD are taking the most conservative interpretation, that is, we have no hard evidence that the iPad is hurting PC sales, we have a growing body of data, and importantly, interpretation by seasoned market analysts, that suggest otherwise.

In such a climate, even a conservative assessment would have to be that the effect of the iPad on PC sales is uncertain, but likely to have a negative effect. NPD’s ‘definitely not’ position is increasingly untenable. But if NPD are correct, we should anticipate a spike in PC sales shortly with no measurable effect on iPad sales.

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