Market Watch

China PC Industry Suffers Slight Setback in 2012


Growth, while positive, decelerates from the rapid expansion of years past

The PC market in China slowed down somewhat in 2012 after years of notable double-digit growth, hurt by sluggish domestic sales and diminished consumer confidence both resulting from a soft global economy, according to an IHS iSuppli China Research topical report from information and analytics provider IHS.

Total PC shipments for domestic use in China reached 79.9 million units last year, including 40.5 million desktops and 39.4 million notebook or netbook computers. Growth equated to 8.1 percent, down from 10.4 percent in 2011 when shipments amounted to 73.9 million units. Aside from 2011, the China PC market had enjoyed a remarkable run of double-digit-rate expansion from 2008 to 2010, at one point attaining a 34.3 percent increase.

The slower growth in 2012 was a result of the gloomy economic outlook worldwide spilling into China and affecting its industries and citizens. Rising inflation, weak exports and lower investment growth in the country also helped put the brakes on what had been a vibrant, robust domestic economy.

In particular, the PC space suffered because of waning interest among Chinese consumers. As in other parts of the world, the new superthin Ultrabooks have not taken off here, with the expensive machines priced out of range and affordability for the majority of the population. Meanwhile, mobile PCs such as notebooks and netbooks are under siege from tablets and smartphones, which have seized the public’s fancy just as they have captured the world at large.

The one bright spot in the China PC market is the all-in-one desktop PC, which has become popular among domestic households for its sleek form factor and reasonable pricing.

But despite lower growth last year, the China PC industry remains a formidable player, especially on the world stage. The country’s nearly 80 million PC shipments in 2012 represented 64 percent of the entire Asia-Pacific PC market, while also accounting for 24 percent—nearly a quarter—of the world total. And even though the domestic PC industry was reduced to single-digit growth in 2012, it far outpaced the performance of the global PC trade, which saw overall shipments contract by more than 1 percent during the same time.

In many ways, China remains the most important PC market in the world—home to the largest population on Earth, with plenty of opportunities remaining for PC penetration to deepen. Urban households on average still have less than one PC unit per home, and the rate of ownership is even lower in vast areas of the rural countryside.

Here, domestic brands have an advantage over foreign players, especially in supplying computers to official channels like education and the government, where the computers being used need to be localized under the watchful eye of authorities.

The biggest PC players for the year

The Top PC brands overall in China for 2012 included, in descending order, Lenovo, Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Asus. 

Lenovo’s booming desktop and laptop sales in China represented an upbeat spot in an otherwise stagnant domestic PC market. Shipments from Beijing-based Lenovo amounted to 29.3 million units, or 37 percent of the China PC market.

Acer, from Taiwan, was the only other entity aside from Lenovo to have a double-digit share of the China PC space, at 11 percent. Dell, HP and Asus each had share ranging from 6 to 9 percent; and sitting just below the Top 5 were other China-based PC brands besides Lenovo, including Haier, Tongfang and Hasee.

Meanwhile, the top original development manufacturers (ODM) or electronic manufacturing services (EMS) providers that made the actual PCs for the brands were all companies with headquarters in Taiwan.

The Top 3 included Hon Hai, which partners with PC manufacturers like HP, Apple, Sony, Dell and Lenovo; as well as Quanta Computer and Compal Electronics. Other important ODMs and EMS providers in the China PC space included Wistron, Pegatron and Inventec.

Read More >> China PC Growth Has Slowed, but Positive Outllook Still Seen for the Market