Posted 2/2/11 : Quarter 4 sales globally rise 19 percent
 
Despite difficult economic conditions, global sales of personal computers – including the popular new tablet computers – soared 19 percent in the last quarter of 2010, reports research company Canalsys.
 
The company attributes the majority of Q4 market growth to the rising demand for pads or tablet computers, a new product category first introduced by Apple.
 
"Pads gave consumers increased product choice over the holiday season," said Canalys Analyst Tim Coulling. "While they do not appeal to first-time buyers or low-income households, they are proving extremely popular as additional computing devices."
 
Coulling says that pads as an integral new component of the overall PC landscape. Unlike other analyst companies, Canalys incorporates pad shipments, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Apple’s iPad, in its total PC market report.
 
"Pads gave the market momentum in 2010, just as netbooks did the year before," said Canalys Senior Analyst Daryl Chiam. "Any argument that a pad is not a PC is simply out of sync," Chiam added. "With screen sizes of seven inches or above, ample processing power, and a growing number of applications, pads offer a computing experience comparable to netbooks. They compete for the same customers and will happily coexist. As with smart phones, some users will require a physical keyboard, while others will do without."
 
Asia, especially China and India, continued to outperform most of the other global markets, to the benefit of Lenovo and Dell, Canalsys reports.
 
In the United States, sales recovered somewhat, while Europe, the Middle East and Africa remained an ongoing concern due to substantial consumer inventory build-up. This situation is likely to be exacerbated by rising VAT levels across five countries – Poland, Latvia, Slovakia, Switzerland and the UK – as well as the urgency created by the upcoming Intel refresh. As a result, Canalys predicts significant retail discounting in this region during the first quarter of 2011.
 
Other bright spots for the PC industry included accelerating corporate refresh programmes, as Windows 7 became an accepted operating system. This trend favoured vendors with a solid presence in B2B, notably HP, Dell and Lenovo.
 
Canalys also noted strong demand for servers and storage, driven by substantial investment in data centre infrastructure.
 
"Recessionary budgets are over for most companies, and IT expenditure is again being used as a catalyst for growth," Coulling observed. "The performance of the corporate market, however, contrasts starkly with the decline in public sector expenditure in most Western countries. The big service-led companies, which profited greatly from huge government-led contracts, are in for a tough 2011."