2 min read

Laptop-hungry SMBs drive Canadian PC demand in Q3

Despite reports of its death and market challenges from possible spinoffs to flooding, IDC reports resilience in Canada's PC market

Pundits looking for data-points to bolster a “death of the PC” argument won’t find much ammunition in the third quarter Canadian PC shipment numbers from analyst firm IDC Canada, which is reporting resilience despite substantial market challenges in the quarter.

In Q3 of 2011, IDC is reporting shipments of 1,921,032 units. That’s down 0.4 per cent of the year-ago period, but it’s important to note that Q3 2010 figure was an all-time high for the Canadian market so coming slightly off that figure isn’t a cause for worry.

“Absolutely not,” said Tim Brunt, senior analyst for personal computing with IDC Canada. “This quarter came in higher than we forecast. Overall, considering some of the things that have happened in the quarter it’s pretty remarkable numbers across the board.”

Canada was outpaced by 0.7 per cent growth in the U.S. and 1.3 per cent growth worldwide, but our market stayed steadier through the downturn so their growth figures are a case of returning to normal market levels.

Breaking down the numbers, Canada had a strong quarter in the portables segment with over 1.3 million units shipped, good for 5.7 per cent year over year growth and the highest quarterly portable shipments in Canada on record. Portables made up 71.2 per cent of Canadian shipments, higher than the global average of 64.7 per cent. Desktop shipments were down 12.7 per cent year over year, shipping 552,600.

Brunt notes that Canada crossed the 50 per cent portable/desktop as early as 2008, one of the first regions to cross that barrier.

“We’ve just had a good ramp-up of mobile implementations,” said Brunt. “We continue to grow on that trend and we also have lower price points that make portables more attractive to Canadian consumers than in other regions.”

While that pricing advantage has eroded somewhat in recent quarters, Brunt notes the growth of Apple, with its higher average selling prices, is likely skewing the figures upward. Apple and Lenovo were the only top five vendors to gain market share in Q3, but HP held onto top spot ahead of Acer and Dell.

While the top five dominate, it’s becoming less so. Other vendors took 24.8 per cent of the market and gained 13.3 per cent share in Q3. IDC identified more than 30 vendors shipping into the Canadian market in the quarter, from white box players to vendors such as Asus, Fujitsu, LG, MSI, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Toshiba and ViewSonic.

The commercial market carried the freight in Q3, with shipments rising by 7.2 per cent. And it was small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that led the way, accounting for 51 per cent of commercial shipments and growing by 15.7 per cent on escalating demand for portables.

“SMB was a lot stronger than we’d anticipated,” said Brunt. “We’d kind of been looking more to mid-sized to large enterprises to do a lot of the heavy lifting, but SMBs came up pretty strong in the quarter.”

Looking ahead, with economic worries, as well as supply chain concerns driven by recent flooding in Thailand, Brunt predicts future numbers to be down a little bit.

“We’re more pessimistic given the number of downside risk factors happening, especially with some of the pessimism in terms of the economy, but I think the biggest challenge people will have to overcome is the hard drive situation in Thailand.”

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.