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Smartphone, tablet surge hurts PC sales

Consumer spending is shifting from PCs to tablets and smartphones.

Consumer spending is shifting from PCs to tablets and smartphones.

Preliminary results released by International Data Corporation (IDC) show shipments of PCs into the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey slowed 18.3% year on year during the second quarter of 2013 to a total of 4.4 million units.

Desktops were the hardest hit, with shipments down 20% year on year to 1.8 million units, while notebook shipments declined 17.1% over the same period to total 2.6 million units, says the IDC in a statement.

"A growing portion of end users, primarily from the consumer segment, are shifting their spending from PCs to tablets and smartphones," says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, research manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. "This was accompanied by ongoing instability in several parts of the Middle East and Africa region, which resulted in PC spending by both the commercial and consumer segments plummeting at an even faster rate."

Charakla says Intel and Microsoft have made keen efforts to revive the position of PCs against tablets, particularly in light of the latter adapting its operating system to a touch-screen interface. "However, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS still outperform Microsoft’s Windows 8 when it comes to the number of applications the respective operating systems offer, which has a direct negative impact on the user experience. At the same time, the growing availability of aggressively priced tablet models, including those offered by multinational vendors, is continuing to encourage growing numbers of end users to switch to this increasingly popular form factor."

Despite declining price points on the numerous ultra-slim notebook models available in the market, this product category failed to catapult its own popularity at the planned pace, says IDC. The statement notes a large portion of end users still prefer to buy portable PCs with optical drives, which most ultra-slim notebook models fail to offer.

Overall drop

According to IDC, all key markets in the region experienced double-digit declines year on year. Turkey suffered a significant drop in PC shipments owing to the ongoing protests and social unrest in the country, while poor economic growth and high inflation caused a dramatic fall in PC shipments into SA.

A change in the labour law by the government of Saudi Arabia forced a large number of expatriates to leave the country, causing its PC market to suffer tremendously.

Meanwhile, in the UAE, a sharp decline in PC sales through the retail channel combined with instability in a number of key re-export destinations to drive a considerable decline in shipments into the country, says the corporation.

"Ongoing political instability in neighboring Syria continues to negatively impact the PC markets of Jordan and Lebanon," says Victoria Mendes, a research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

"And the impact of this instability is being exacerbated by the cannibalization of these PC markets by tablet devices. The home segment suffered the most as consumer sentiment remains very low in these countries, while the absence of large commercial and public sector deals further contributed to the decline of the overall PC market across the Levant region."

HP still ahead

The results show HP continued to lead the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey PC market during the second quarter of 2013, despite suffering a decline of 19.5% year on year. Similarly, Dell posted a 17.5% year-on-year drop in shipments into the region, but was able to hold on to second place in the vendor rankings. Dell also managed to secure a large PC delivery into the Saudi education sector during the quarter.

According to IDC, Lenovo experienced the fastest growth in the region among the leading vendors, with its shipments increasing 17.1% year on year to maintain its position at number three. Samsung climbed to fourth place after posting year-on-year shipment growth of 7.9%, while a drastic 42.1% decline for Acer resulted in the vendor slipping down to fifth.

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