The Intel CPU supply constraints came home to roost in calendar Q1 as global PC sales shrank: only the top three largest manufacturers reported any growth after they muscled to source as many chips as they could.
According to Gartner, shipments into channels – distributors and retailers – fell 4.6 per cent in the three months to 58.5 million units. Or, put another way, some 2.85 million fewer machines were funnelled into the supply chain than a year earlier.
"The supply constraints affected the vendor competitive landscape as leading vendors had better allocation of chips and also began sourcing alternative CPUs from AMD," said Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at the research house.
Market leader Lenovo managed the biggest shipment expansion, jumping 6.9 per cent to 13.19 million PCs, giving it 22.5 per cent share of the total market. It benefited from the inclusion of PC sales from Fujitsu, following the joint venture formed last year.
In second, HP Inc grew just 0.8 per cent to 12.83 million, taking 21.9 per cent market share, helped by an uplift in desktop sales and a "small increase in EMEA" but reported a "decline in all other regions," said Gartner.
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Over at newly public Dell, sales edged up 1.5 per cent to 9.989 million units, accounting for 17.6 per cent of all PCs sold globally. This was the fifth straight quarter Dell has grown. Desktops were a boon, and shipments were up in EMEA, Japan and Latin America.
Kitigawa said those three badass PC builders – whose kit now accounts for 61.5 per cent of all shipments – were up after ruling 56.9 per cent of shipments a year earlier. The trio grew "despite the supply constraint by focusing on their high-end products and taking share from small vendors that struggled to secure CPUs".
"Moreover, the constraints resulted in the top vendors shifting their product mix to the high-end segments in order to deal with the constraint – which, along with favourable component price trends, should boost profit margins," she added.
Fourth-placed Apple shrank 2.5 per cent to 3.97 million units, Asus was down 7.3 per cent to 3.6 million, Acer was down 13.2 per cent to 3.32 million, and the Other section was down 20.9 per cent to 11.6 million.
Consumer sales "remained weak" versus a year ago, said Gartner – mirroring the situation in the UK during January and February, as The Reg revealed recently.
The business sector, however, was still aided to some extent by the Windows 10 refresh, though a slowdown in mobile PC sales could indicate the buying cycle has "nearly peaked".
Sales in the US declined 6.3 per cent to 11.02 million, were down 2.2 per cent in EMEA to 18 million units, down 5.1 per cent on Asia Pacific to 20.1 million, and down 16.6 per cent in Latin America. Only Japan recorded growth, up 6.8 per cent. ®