New York - Despite posting healthy gains, PC shipments for the third quarter grew at a slower pace than expected, and two research firms pointed a finger at media-pad type devices as one reason for the contraction.
IDC and Gartner's third-quarter PC shipment reports, issued today, had shipments increasing 11 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. However, in each case this figure was between 3 percent and 5 percent lower than what the research firms had predicted for the quarter.
The companies cited poor consumer sales during the period for the unexpected falloff, with sales of notebook computers a specific problem. Notebooks had been a mainstay of consumer purchases throughout the recession.
The back-to-school buying season usually guarantees a better-than-average third quarter, but this year the lingering effects of the recession tied to the iPad/slate products helped convince students and their parents that they could put off a computer purchase, both firms reported.
Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said media tablet devices like the iPad are not necessarily grabbing sales, but the media hype surrounding these new products are giving consumers a reason to hold up on making a computer purchase.
"At this stage, hype around media tablets has led consumers and the channels to take a â€˜wait and see' approach to buying a new device," she said.
Gartner and IDC do not include iPad shipments in their quarterly shipment reports. Earlier this year shipment estimates for the iPad in 2010 ranged from 8 million to 10 million.
IDC Bob O'Donnell, clients and displays VP, noted that netbook sales had slowed during the quarter, in part due to the influence of the iPad. He added that whatever negative impact the iPad may have had on the category was countered by its effect on Apple as a whole.
"The halo effect of the device also helped propel Mac sales and moved the company into the No. 3 position in the U.S. market," he said.
IDC had Apple just nudging out Acer, shipping 1.99 million units for 10.6 percent of the U.S. market to Acer's 1.949, or 10.3 percent.
Gartner's report placed Apple at No. 4, just barely behind Acer. Apple shipped 1.831 million computers, compared with Acer's 1.848 million during the quarter. Acer had 10.5 percent of the market to Apple's 10.4.
The difference between IDC and Gartner's numbers is due to different tracking methodology.
Overall, Hewlett-Packard retained its top position on both companies' charts. IDC had HP shipping 4.6 million units for 24.3 percent of the market, while Gartner had the technology giant at 4.5 million for a 25.3 percent share.
Dell kept its second-place spot on both lists and Toshiba held the No. 5 spot despite losing several points of share.
Top 5 Vendors, United States PC Shipments, Third Quarter 2010 (Preliminary)
(Units Shipments are in thousands)