Ultrabooks have failed to uplift global PC shipments as two independent research firms have revealed that their data indicate that global PC shipments have stalled during the second quarter of this year.
Research firms International Data Corporation (IDC) and Gartner have published independent reports that pegged PC shipments to be down one-tenth of a percentage point compared to the industry performance for the same quarter of 2011.
According to IDC and Gartner, Ultrabooks have not boosted sales of personal computers. “Ultrabooks have not yet produced a significant rise in volumes – in part due to anticipation of improvements such as Windows 8, which is expected later this year, but also due to pricing,” IDC said in a release.
Furthermore, IDC says that the U.S. market suffered a very steep decline in PC shipments for the second quarter. The research firm says that the region’s PC shipments had contracted 11 percent during the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Gartner pegs this decrease to be lower. Nonetheless, its report indicates that the U.S. PC market declined 6 percent in terms of shipments for the second quarter, still a significant number.
“The U.S. market suffered a double-digit contraction in the second quarter as market saturation and economic factors combine with anticipation of Windows 8 and other changes later in the year. In this context, consumers are delaying purchases, and vendors and retailers are slowing down their PC activities to clear existing inventories,” David Daoud said in a statement.
“The situation is exacerbated by consumer notebook saturation, a slowing replacement cycle in the commercial sector, and the big macro-economic and political events affecting confidence and spending,” the IDC Research Director for Personal Computing added.
Furthermore, IDC’s Daoud wasn’t too optimistic about the third quarter as he added that “We don’t expect PCs using Windows 8 to boost growth significantly until the fourth quarter, which leads to a conservative outlook for the third quarter.”
Meanwhile, IDC Senior Research Analyst for the Worldwide PC Tracker report explained that these numbers weren’t shocking to IDC.
“These latest results validate IDC’s expectation that the second quarter would be a transition period where both economic factors and anticipation for new products in the second half of the year would result in relatively low PC shipment growth,” said Jay Chou, senior research analyst, Worldwide PC Tracker,” he said.
“The announcement of a Windows 8 launch date, as well as broader communication of new features in the OS, are key steps that would help to address uncertainty about new product availability and help consumers and channels plan their purchases,” he added.
It was the hope of the industry that Ultrabooks would fuel the resurgence of PC shipments worldwide. Intel has pioneered the term for these sleek laptops.
Ultrabooks are primarily seen as the reaction of the PC industry to the popular MacBook Air. Based on the description from Intel, it looks that way.
Ultrabooks are designed to be thin laptops like the MacBook Air. However, they are also designed to pack powerful processors and maintain a long battery life. Nonetheless, that’s also like the MacBook Air.
Meanwhile, a recent report from research firm NPD has said that Ultrabooks did indeed drive sales of Windows Notebooks in the over-$700 price range.
“Ultrabooks helped propel the premium market with Windows notebooks priced over $700 falling by just 3 percent, and those priced over $900 increasing 39 percent versus the prior year,” NPD said in its report.
The firm’s Stephen Baker said in a statement that “Ultrabooks have helped establish a market for more premium-priced Windows notebooks at retail.”
That’s the exact reason IDC and Gartner sees why Ultrabooks haven’t driven global PC shipments to uplift the category, they remain expensive. It is not that many people do not have the money to buy Ultrabooks, it’s that average consumers are not too keen on spending that kind of money for a PC.
The NPD report back in June was optimistic, however, as NPD Group’s Stephen Baker said in a statement that “Consumers continue to respond positively to finally being offered stylish, thinner, and more premium device offerings than ever before within the Windows ecosystem.”
There’s a drive to lessen the price of Ultrabooks too with the Dell Inspiron Z-series we recently reported about being the most affordable Ultrabook series yet by starting at $600. The Dell Inspiron Z-series offers Intel Core i5 processor as base in a thin profile with a long battery life.
The drive to develop Ultrabooks was spearheaded by Intel as it will benefit from renewed interest in PCs because that translates to increased sales for its processors and PC components like motherboards.
Last year, Intel set aside $300 million to support manufacturers who are developing Ultrabooks.
“Ultrabook devices are poised to be an important area for innovation in the $261 billion global computer industry,” Intel Capital President and Intel Executive VP Arvind Sodhani said in a statement then.
It remains to be seen whether Ultrabooks will ultimately drive a resurgence of the PC market.
Images 1 & 2 from IntelFreePress on Flickr (CC)