Worldwide notebook shipments in the first quarter of 2016 arrived at 35.62 million units, according to the global market research firm TrendForce. The first quarter was the traditional off season for the notebook market and retailers still needed time to clear out their existing inventories. Hence, total shipments fell 19% from the prior quarter and also declined 7.3% year on year.
TrendForce notebook analyst Anita Wang said the first-quarter notebook market was further affected by noises and speculations. For instance, the report of Microsoft planning to raise the operating system license fees had a serious impact on the outlooks of branded Wintel notebook vendors. Additionally, prices of components such as HDDs have been rising, causing the cost of the entire notebook system to go up as well. Hence, notebook brands have become more conservative in their demand forecasts for the year. Based on TrendForce’s latest analysis, this year’s notebook shipments will register an annual decline of around 4~5%.
Apple suffered a 40% quarterly decline in MacBook shipments as most brands went through a difficult off season
Lenovo replaced HP as the leading notebook brand by shipments in the first quarter. Lenovo strove to achieve the best possible performance because this period was also the company’s final fiscal quarter for 2015. The Chinese brand therefore posted just a 10% decline in notebook shipments. However, Lenovo will have difficulty on keeping up shipments and continuing to lead the vendor ranking in the second quarter. Retail channels are carrying over sizable inventories from the first quarter, so the stock-up demand for Lenovo notebooks is expected to be severely limited in the near future.
HP’s priority in the first quarter was to clear out as much existing notebook inventories as possible so that its retailers will be ready to stock up the numerous new products from the brand later on. Due to the inventory depletion efforts in the channels and seasonality, HP’s shipments fell 21.2% quarterly. The vendor dropped to second place in the worldwide ranking.
Dell has benefitted from having a stable base of enterprise clients. The brand therefore only suffered a quarterly shipment decline of just 15% and remained at the third place in the ranking.
ASUS held on to its fourth place ranking despite seeing a quarterly shipment decline of 28.9%. ASUS used the off season of the first quarter to include more profitable products into its notebook portfolio, such as notebooks with upgraded screen resolutions. Increasing margins is going to be the brand’s main goal this year.
Acer’s notebook shipments fell 24.7% compared with the prior quarter. Weak sales in the U.S. and Europe and ongoing inventory reduction efforts in the channels were the main factors.
In the first quarter, Apple did not have any new MacBook products ready for the market, nor did it lower MacBook prices to generate sales. Apple’s Wintel-based competitors, on the other hand, benefitted from Windows 10 and the steady supply of Intel’s Skylake CPUs. They were able to have numerous new products ready to promote and ship. As a result, MacBook shipments suffered a massive quarterly decline of 40.4% in the first quarter and Apple retreated to the sixth place in the ranking.
Samsung returned to the consumer notebook market at the end of 2015 and has been stepping up its shipments into various channels since then. In this year’s first quarter, Samsung grew its notebook shipments by 43% over the previous period.