PC Sales Slip Spares Apple, HP and Dell Diversify

With the evolution of mobile devices, tablets and smartphones, the demand for personal computers has been shrinking the past few years. But it seems that last year heart breaking, as 2011 is considered the second worst year in the history of PC industry for US sales.  Last year, US customers bought 71.3 million personal computers, which is even less than 2010’s 75 million. Total sales dropped nearly 5 percent from 2010, which is really disappointing for hardware makers.

The worst sign of this sales downfall was seen in the fourth quarter when the shipments declined by nearly 7 percent. Talking about all major computer manufacturers, Hewlett-Packard saw its US shipments decline by 25 percent, Dell by 5 percent, Acer by 14 percent, and Toshiba by 2 percent in the fourth quarter. When it comes to the entire year, HP saw its shipments fall by nearly 5 percent, Dell’s fell by more than 8 percent, Acer’s by 30 percent in the US.

But there was an exception.  Apple’s shipments grew by 18 percent in the fourth quarter. In fact, for the entire year of 2011, Apple’s share of the US market amounted to 10.7 percent, which is up from 8.8 percent a year ago.

Diversifying strategies

To cope with the current situation and revive its position, Hewlett-Packard is planning the launch of a new pair of desktop computers, designed for families. Named the HP Omni, it is an all-in-one desktop PC, and will go on sale on January 08, 2012. This week also brought news of the HP Pavilion HPE h9 Phoenix, a tower-style PC for gamers. Hewlett-Packard is trying to gain growth in its $39.6 billion PC division after Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman’s October decision to keep the group in-house. CEO Whitman made some critical decisions early on, like keeping the much debated $40 billion-plus PC business. When Leo Apotheker was handling the command, HP was considering a sale or spin-off for the PC division, but Whitman reverted.

HP is also heady on storage, and we expect to see some major developments in this area as 2012 gets going.  On the software side, HP’s also making unexpected inroads in healthcare via WebOS, as medical researchers develop applications for the newly open-source platform.

Moving ahead, Dell is also giving another chance to its tablet business after burying two tablets last year. According to Dell, they could be launching their first commercial tablet later this year. The Dell team is really taking their time on this one, as they do not want to rush into things again then end up trashing their products like the Streak 5 and 7 or encounter the same sad fate as the HP TouchPad or the BlackBerry PlayBook.