Global PC shipments fell 4% in the third quarter on a year earlier. October may bring more of the same with Panjiva data for Chinese exports showing a 12% drop. Stand-alone PCs did worst, with a 47% slump, while laptops – accounting for 82% of all shipments – fell 10%. The weakest region for laptops was the EU, with a 18% slide while falling selling prices may explain why U.S. exports dropped 6% in dollar terms despite higher shipments. New models matter. Number three supplier Inventec’s production of Xiaomi’s Chromebook may explain its 23% jump in exports, while Lenovo’s increased 27% on its new Yogabook. Largest producer and Apple supplier Quanta suffered a 30% drop.
Worldwide PC shipments were down 3.9% on a year earlier in the third quarter according to IDC. Trade data for exports from China suggest little has changed in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Panjiva data shows that total exports fell 11.8% in the month of October, and by 11.9% over the three months to October 31 on a year earlier.
The underperformance in October was led by stand-alone PC systems, which fell 46.7% in the month of October and 18.8% in the three months. This may be because consumer demand continues to shift to all-in-ones, which saw a 2% growth in the three month period despite having fallen 8.5% in October alone.
The best performing, but still contracting, segment was servers, which fell just 3.1% in October but are up 3.7% over the three months. These latter two however couldn’t offset weakness from laptops. These accounted for 82.0% of exports during the month, and fell 10.3% in the month and by 13.9% over the three months after a particularly weak September.
Laptops may be facing a number of negative trends. In developed markets this may be due to a trend towards detachables, which are classified as tablets, at the lower end and gaming consoles at the higher end. A resulting fall in average selling prices may be behind the drop in U.S. bound shipments, down 5.8%, despite a rebound in shipments shown in Panjiva research of November 14. Among other regions exports to the EU were the weakest with a 17.6% decline.
Product cycles matter. Among the major shippers the best performing was Inventec, with a 22.8% jump in October and 5.8% for the three months to October 31 on a year earlier. This may reflect its (delayed) shipments of Chromebooks for Xiaomi.
Exports by Lenovo jumped 27.2%, and tied for fifth position with Wistron, as its Yogabook was a rare new product available earlier in the quarter. New products from Apple and Microsoft have come much later in the year. The obverse, along with supply chain shifts, may explain why shipments by largest exporter Quanta, a supplier to Apple, slid 30.4% in October on a year earlier.
This research was first published in the Panjiva Daily, which features global trade news and data-driven insights and is free for all Panjiva subscribers. To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org.