PC sales see worst drop ever in Q1

Updated 12 April 2013
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PC sales see worst drop ever in Q1

NEW YORK: Worldwide sales of personal computers slid 13.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013, research firm IDC said, the worst contraction since it began tracking the market in 1994.
IDC said global PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units in the first quarter, the fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year declines. The group said sales were down “significantly across all regions” of the world.
The research firm said tablets and smartphones “continue to divert consumer spending” and efforts by PC makers to come up with touchscreens and capabilities and ultra-slim systems have fallen flat.
While surveys have shown consumers shifting away from traditional PCs to tablets and other devices, the survey highlighted a grimmer-than-expected market.

The survey found a result far worse than IDC’s projected 7.7 percent year-on-year drop despite what the firm called “some mild improvement in the economic environment and some new PC models” with the Windows 8 operating system.
“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” said IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell.
“While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI (user interface), removal of the familiar ‘Start’ button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices.
“Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.”
IDC said Hewlett-Packard remained the top vendor despite a 23 percent year on year drop in first-quarter shipments.
China’s Lenovo remained second in global shipments and nearly closed the gap with HP, based on IDC estimates.
According to IDC, HP sold 11.997 million PCs for a 15.7 percent market share to 11.7 million for Lenovo, for a 15.3 percent share. Dell was third at 11.8 percent followed by Taiwan firms Acer (8.1 percent) and Asus (5.7 percent).
A separate report by Gartner painted an equally bleak picture.
Gartner said global shipments fell 11.2 percent from a year earlier to 79.2 million, dropping below 80 million units for the first time since the second quarter of 2009.
Mikako Kitagawa, analyst at Gartner, said: “Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Even emerging markets, where PC penetration is low, are not expected to be a strong growth area for PC vendors.
Gartner data showed HP and Lenovo “in a virtual tie” for the top vendor spot, with HP barely ahead at 14.8 percent to 14.7 percent for Lenovo.
In the US, HP is in the middle of a wrenching restructuring to cope with the market shift, while Dell is mulling a private buyout led by founder Michael Dell in an effort to revive growth.
The US market for PCs slumped 12.7 percent in the first quarter, according to IDC. Gartner data showed a 9.6 percent drop.
Apple outperformed most of its peers by grabbing more market share in the US, but faced pressure “as its own PCs also face competition from iPads,” according to IDC.


Saudi Arabia, Russia and China give EU trade reforms thumbs down at WTO

Updated 12 min 27 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia, Russia and China give EU trade reforms thumbs down at WTO

  • China is suing US and EU at WTO
  • Kingdom warns new rules are concerning

The EU’s new rules against countries dumping cheap goods on its market got a rough ride at a World Trade Organization meeting, where China, Russia and Saudi Arabia led a chorus of disapproval, a trade official said on Thursday.

The EU, which is in a major dispute with China about the fairness of Chinese pricing, introduced rules last December that allow it to take into account “significant distortions” in prices caused by government intervention.

A Chinese trade official told the WTO’s anti-dumping committee that Beijing had deep concerns about the new methodology, saying it would damage the WTO’s anti-dumping system and increase uncertainty for exporters, an official who attended the meeting said.

China argued that the concept of “significant distortion” did not exist under WTO rules, and the EU should base its dumping investigations on domestic prices in countries of origin, such as China.

The EU reformed its rules in the hope they would allow it to keep shielding its markets from cheap Chinese imports while fending off a Chinese legal challenge at the WTO.
China said that when it joined the WTO in 2001, the other member countries agreed that after 15 years they would treat it as a market economy, taking its prices at face value.

But the US and the EU have refused, saying China still subsidises some industries, such as steel and aluminum, which have massive overcapacity and spew vast supplies onto the world market, making it impossible for others to compete.

China is suing both the US and the EU at the WTO to try to force them to change their rules.

Legal experts say the dispute is one of the most important in the 23-year history of the WTO, because it pits the major trading blocs against each other with fundamentally opposing views of how the global trade rules should work.

In the WTO committee meeting, Saudi Arabia said the new rules were very concerning, and it challenged the EU to explain how EU authorities could ensure a fair and objective assessment of “significant distortion.”

Russia said the EU rules violated the WTO rulebook and certain aspects were unclear and created great uncertainty for exporters. Bahrain, Argentina, Kazakhstan and Oman also expressed concerns.

But a US trade official said the discussion showed that appropriate tools were available within the WTO to address distortions affecting international trade.