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PC sales see modest drop amid replacements of Windows XP

NEW YORK--Global personal computer sales saw a modest dip in the first quarter of 2014, as the pace of decline was eased by replacements of older PCs using Windows XP.

Figures released Wednesday by Gartner showed global sales down 1.7 percent year-over-year at 76.6 million units in the first quarter of 2014.

A separate survey by IDC showed a 4.4 percent drop to 73.4 million.

Analysts said the PC market is still ailing amid a shift to mobile devices such as tablets but saw a brief respite with the replacement of machines using Windows XP, for which Microsoft ended its technical support this week.

“The end of XP support by Microsoft on April 8 has played a role in the easing decline of PC shipments,” said Mikako Kitagawa, analyst at Gartner.

“All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems. Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter.”

Japan saw a stunning 35 percent year-on-year jump in PC sales, helped by the replacement of Windows XP machines and a sales tax change, the analyst noted.

“While the PC market remains weak, it is showing signs of improvement compared to last year,” she said.

“The PC professional market generally improved in regions such as EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). The U.S. saw the gradual recovery of PC spending as the impact of tablets faded.”

Loren Loverde at IDC said that the woes of traditional PCs are not over, and pointed to eight consecutive quarterly declines.

“The transition to more mobile devices and usage modes is unlikely to stop, although the short term impact on PC shipments may slow as tablet penetration rises — as we've begun to see in some mature regions,” he said.

“The net result remains consistent with our past forecasts — in particular, that there is potential for PC shipments to stabilize, but not much opportunity for growth.”

China's Lenovo remained the top PC vendor in both surveys followed by U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard. Gartner pegged Lenovo's market share at 16.9 percent with shipments of 12.9 million followed by HP's 12.2 million and a 16 percent share.

IDC figures showed Lenovo at 17.7 percent and HP and 17.1 percent.

Dell, Acer and Asus rounded out the top five sellers in the surveys.

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