The handover was irreparable. China became the world’s largest market for personal computers before the United States. Second-quarter PC sales jumped 14% (by volume) in China, with 18.5 million units sold, according to IDC. Meanwhile, the U.S. market fell by 4.8%, with 17.7 million computers. The ranking also applies in value: China is now worth 22% of the world, to 11.9 billion. “Purchases of businesses and government activity have driven growth,” said analyst Bryan Ma. IDC expects a similar trend in the third quarter. But America should, however, resume its crown in the last quarter and maintain its position as the world’s largest market on the whole of 2011 – nearly a million copies – drawn by the Christmas sales. China will definitely win in 2012, while IDC predicts a 18% increase in computer sales over the year.
The transition is symbolic. It follows a similar movement occurred in 2009 in the automobile. The logical conclusion is, however, given the demographics and the growth differential between the two countries. Since the beginning of the year, the U.S. market for PC undergoes degradation in economic conditions. Households and companies tend to postpone their IT investments. The situation is even more difficult in Western Europe, where sales fell 19% in the second quarter of 2011.
The success of Lenovo Group shows just the health of the Chinese market. The third PC manufacturer in the world has seen its sales jump 15% last quarter, benefiting in particular its leadership position in China. Lenovo, which bought IBM’s PC branch in 2005, could soon take the place of the world leader in the industry, given the current difficulties of its two main competitors, Dell and HP. The Chinese group is also cited as a potential buyer of the Computing Division of HP.