Computer Electronics

Good and Bad News for Mobile PCs in Q3

28 October 2013

The worldwide mobile PC business delivered mixed results in the third quarter as shipments attained the largest sequential growth in eight straight quarters but continued to decline on a year-over-year basis, according to a new PC Dynamics brief from IHS Inc.

Mobile PC shipments worldwide are expected to reach 47.9 million units in the third quarter when final figures are released, up a solid 6 percent from the second quarter. This represents the largest sequential growth number since two years ago when the market rose 7 percent in the third quarter of 2011.

The latest figures also show that the global PC space for mobile computers reversed the decline of the last two periods, providing even more cause to cheer.

On the other hand, the third-quarter results show the market has now shrunk for five consecutive quarters on a year-over-year basis, starting from the second quarter of 2012 more than one year ago. This fifth quarter of decline, down 9 percent compared to the same time last year, is the second-worst drop after the sharp 14 percent loss incurred during the previous quarter.

Growth lurking around the corner?

Overall, however, the market has reason to be more optimistic than negative, IHS believes. While mobile PCs continue to be engaged in a losing battle against tablets, several market developments appear encouraging.

For instance, Intel’s new Haswell processor as well as its soon-to-be-released Bay Trail chip will make mobile PCs like Ultrabooks faster and more agile while also extending battery life—qualities that could enhance the machines’ appeal to consumers. Even Intel rival AMD has a new lineup of processors—already released—that will compete not only in the performance sector but also in the low-power and entry-level-pricing markets, providing further indication that the mobile PC space still has players actively invested in the future of the market.

An indirect boost could come by way of the desktop PC space, which is expected to liven up as the Microsoft Windows XP operating system expires in April next year and the commercial segment then undergoes an anticipated refresh cycle. Such a development could potentially translate into millions of computers upgrading to a fresh operating system as well as more advanced hardware. Any uptick in the desktop space is potentially beneficial to the mobile market, especially if excitement over new software and hardware spills over and engages consumers.

All hopes are now pinned on the fourth quarter, which could end up as one of the most important holiday seasons yet for the PC industry. With various new technologies launching, the PC trade is playing its best hand in years. Many eyes will be watching to see how the rest of the year—to say nothing of 2014—turns out.

Still, a hard road ahead

The year, however, remains likely to end on a disappointing note for the overall PC market including mobile computers.

Although the second half of 2013 will prove stronger than the first six months of the year, the deep damage inflicted during the first half will make its presence felt when final results are tallied by year-end. As a result, the global PC market is forecast to be down again this year, repeating the decline of 2012, which had been the first in 11 years.

This time around, the global PC trade is expected to be down 6 percent in shipments, double the 3 percent slide of last year.

Read more >> Mobile PC hits the target for Q3

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