It’s lonely at the top, or so saying goes, but Apple may not have to wait too much longer before it rubs shoulders with those playing catch-up in the global PC arena after Q2 sales declined off the back of a slab crash.
Figures for the last three months collated by the beancounters at Canalys show Tim Cook’s lot sold nearly one million fewer iPads than a year ago, taking its total computer sales down 5.1 per cent to 17.69m units.
This was in a market that grew 13.6 per cent year-on-year to 123.8m units - notebooks, desktops and tabs - but stagnated sequentially, with total PC sales crossing the line flat on the previous quarter.
The problem for Apple is that demand for tablets no longer equates to demand for iPad, and though the total slab market world-wide bounced 41.5 per cent year-on-year, those emblazoned with a certain fruit fell 9.2 per cent to 13.2m.
“Pricing remains Apple’s biggest barrier to growth and essentially locks it out of a number of markets,” said Canalys research analyse Rushabh Doshi,
“By holding firm on its prices, Apple ensures that its tablet business is highly profitable. But as sales in its key markets slow, it is betting on the improving economic environment in high growth market, such as China, to drive growth”.
A ten per cent spike in Mac sales cushioned the impact of the iPad fall, the analysts' data showed. Other dynamics helped out the traditional PC players too, as notebooks recorded sales of 49.1m, albeit flat on a year ago, but this was the first time since Q3 last year that they were not outsold by pads.
In North America and EMEA shipments into distributors were up 13 per cent and eight per cent pushed along by improving economic conditions, the prolonged XP migration and the falling price of touch screens.
The unstoppable Chinese juggernaut Lenovo didn’t pause in the quarter; sales climbed by nearly a fifth to 16.91m units taking it to within touching distance to Apple. And US giants HP and Dell also both reported total shipment jumps of 10.8 per cent and 13.6 per cent to 14m and 10.7m respectively.
In fifth spot, Samsung was the only other major top five seller to decline in Q2, down 2.9 per cent to 10.5m units. A 20.5 per cent rise in tab shipments was offset by declining volumes in PCs, following its withdrawal from the entry level notebook market.
Looking ahead, Canalys said it is too early to forecast a “large-scale refresh” in PCs outside of the XP factor, but senior analyst Tim Coulling said average prices were nearing the sweet spot to stimulate consumer demand.
“Consumers can expect further price cuts in the second half of 2014 as Microsoft responds to the increasing threat from Google. It has dropped licensing costs on small form-factor tablets and announced 'Windows with Bing', which will provide Windows for free on low-cost notebooks”.
“Falling prices are great for consumers but will do nothing to ease the pain for vendor, whose margins are under constant pressure.” ®