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Apple leads the way in declining PC market

Apple has held on to first place in the global PC market despite a 16% decline in shipments, analyst firm Canalys reports. 

The global PC market, including tablets, experienced an annual decline of 7% in the first quarter of 2015, reaching 115.7 million units worldwide. 

Apple shipped 17.2 million units, taking a 15% share of the market. Lenovo and HP, second and third place respectively, both saw single-digit shipment growth in Q1 2015 and increases in market share. 

Samsung narrowly held on to fourth spot as its declining tablet sales led to Dell closing the gap in fifth place. Samsung and Dell took 8.2% shipment market share with 9.5 and 9.4 million units respectively.

Tim Coulling, Canalys senior analyst, says the growth drivers that previously helped the market through 2014 will have little effect this year.

“Vendors are struggling with exchange rate fluctuations, which is making financial planning more difficult and forcing price increases,” he says. “These challenges, combined with a softening of demand as Windows 10 draws nearer along with Microsoft’s free upgrade plans, means PC market declines will be greater in the second quarter than they were in the first.”

Canalys reveals desktop shipments were hardest hit, falling 13%, with declines affecting all global regions. 

“The desktop category no longer benefits from shipments driven by XP migration”, says Rushabh Doshi, Canalys analyst. “As a result, we expect to see significant shipment declines in 2015 when compared to 2014.”

The notebook market fared better, but after two quarters of falling less than 1%, declines have now increased to 4%, Canalys notes.

"The notebook category faces significant challenges for the rest of the year as Microsoft has restricted the Windows with Bing programme to notebooks with sub 14-inch screen sizes,” Doshi explains. “Channel inventory has been building since Microsoft announced the change and this will need to adjust before significant orders return.”

He says, “Any price rises for Windows notebooks will play into the hands of Google who is making strides in improving Chrome OS for both consumers and businesses.”

The tablet market declined around 9% year-on-year to 45.6 million units, with market leaders Samsung and Apple experiencing double-digit shipment declines as demand for the category has cooled. 

Coulling explains, “The rapid growth in the tablet market has caused markets in Western Europe and North America to become highly penetrated and shipment volumes have started to decline.”

“Growth in these markets now relies on consumer replacements or increasing business purchases, neither of which looks likely to pick up significantly in the coming quarters,” he says. “We are continuing to see the tablet market slowing down in less penetrated markets, where large smart phones are now replacing tablets and other devices for accessing the internet.”

Coulling continues, “Smart phones with screen sizes larger than 5.5-inches made up 31% of shipments in China. As this segment grows, tablets under 8-inches are declining and make up just 41% of the Chinese tablet market this quarter compared to 66% a year ago.”

Canalys says hybrid and convertible shipments doubled year-over-year in Q1 2015, reaching 3.0 million units. Asus headed the market with 28% market share, followed by Lenovo and Acer with 19%.

The market for two-in-one devices is expected to continue to grow during 2015 as consumers become accustomed to new form factors, says Canalys. In addition, Windows 10 will provide a better user experience when switching between tablet and notebook modes on these devices.