IDC: A challenging Q4, 2010 and a testing year ahead for Australia’s PC market 

Sydney, Australia. The Australian PC market grew 20% in 2010 year on year (YoY) to reach 5.7 million units, although the Q4 market performance was weaker than expected. Overall Q4 2010 PC shipments increased 4% sequentially and 14% YoY, according to IDC's Australia quarterly PC tracker.

"In spite of the Christmas holiday season, the unexpected interest rate hike and flood disasters affecting several parts of New South Wales and Western Australia resulted in a sluggish retail performance," said Amy Cheah, market analyst at IDC.

Despite the tough conditions in Q4, HP successfully regained its number one position from Acer in the consumer space, which was unable to sustain the momentum it has gained in Q3. "Most consumer-centric vendors such as Acer, Toshiba and ASUS experienced week consumer uptake and struggled to clear the backlog of stocks in the channels following a strong quarter in Q3," said Cheah. "Interestingly, Apple managed to generate a healthy growth with the introduction of its new 11-inch Macbook Air."

Delays in the announcement of the Federal Whole-of-Government Desktop Panel also meant that shipments were only rolled out towards the end of Q4. In the education space, there was large uptake from schools as part of the Digital Education Revolution program. Lenovo, as before, won significant shipments to New South Wales in the quarter. SMB growth, on the other hand, slowed in Q4 as spending was brought ahead when the government stimulus tax incentives were in play in the prior financial year.

With the flood disasters in Queensland and other parts of Victoria and New South Wales seriously impacting the local coal mining industry, local businesses and consumer sentiment, IDC has called down its Q1 2011 forecast by 6% to reflect an expected total shipment of 1.4 million units. However, as flood rebuilding accelerates in the second half of the calendar year, the PC market is expected to recover as insurance claims flow through and end users look to replace damaged/lost PCs.

Adding to the forecast consideration is Intel's Sandy Bridge design flaw issue which saw many vendors having to push back their product refresh plans in Q1 2011. "Channel partners were also reluctant to take on more faulty systems and would rather wait till the fixed chipsets arrive as doubtful end users put off spending in fear of long term complications," said Cheah. "Nonetheless, Intel's quick turnaround time will be a relief to all as the fixed chipsets are expected to arrive in time for the June tax rush period before the end of financial year."

With the new iPad 2 and several more Android Honeycomb tablets bound for the tablet hungry Australian market, the imminent threat of media tablets is undoubtedly a potential inhibiting factor to the growth of the PC market in 2011. Although the majority of media tablets are currently embraced as complementary devices, these devices are eating into consumers' share of wallet.

"It is essential for PC vendors and software providers to continuously innovate to capture end users' mind share," said Cheah. "A shift is happening. It is no longer all about the hardware specifications. It is the ecosystems enabling a holistic user experience which will be the deciding factor."

Table 1 : Australian PC Shipments by Vendor, 4Q10

Source: IDC, 4Q10 PC Tracker March 2011

Rank 

1 HP 22%

2 Acer 15%

3 Dell 14%

4 Apple 11%

5 Toshiba 10%

Others 28%

Grand Total 100%

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