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Worldwide PC sales slump as tablets erode demand

14 Jan 2013

Sales of the PC market fell by 4.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, when compared to the same quarter in 2011, as the introduction of Windows 8 failed to invigorate the market, according to figures from Gartner.

The worldwide market for PC's in 2012 hit 352 million units - down from 365 million in 2011 - with HP topping the chart with 56 million shipments, to take a 16 percent market share.

Lenovo placed second at 14.8 percent of the market with sales of 52 million devices, up from 45 million.

Gartner is the latest firm to see a decline in worldwide sales, after similar reports from IDC last week, with the popularity of tablets cited as a major cause of this slump, as devices like the iPad or Nexus 7 prove more popular than laptops or PCs.

"There are fundamental changes happening in the market and the fact there's been a five percent decline is indicative of where the market is headed as consumers move away from PCs to tablets," Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal told V3.

"We're seeing that people are choosing to use smartphones and tablets as their own device and that PCs are becoming more communal. For vendors this means they are losing their ability to make profit based on volumes and need to focus more on value."

However, this is proving difficult as even the introduction of Windows 8 has failed to boost the market, as software becomes the key focus for enterprises' IT strategies, giving Apple an upper hand.

"Historically PCs were what enterprises focused on but now they are focusing on the delivery of applications on the best platform. So this means desktops are used more to supplement tablet and smartphones, which is a new mindset," said Atwal.

"Vendors are right to transition to touch, but it's not new thing and it takes time to become intuiative."

Overall, HP retained its top-shipment crown from Lenovo, having ceded top spot last quarter to the Chinese vendor, by shipping 14.6 million devices, giving it a market share of 16.2 percent.

Lenovo saws it market share grow the most year on year, though, at 8.2 percent growth to 13 million sales. Dell was the biggest loser, as sales slumped by 20 percent from 11.6 million in Q4 2011 to 9.2 million in 2012's fourth quarter.

"We expect the slowdown to continue in the first quarter of 2013 as the PC market becomes smaller," added Atwal.

"PC vendors could well find it hard to shift to a value proposition, especially in professional markets."

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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