Global sales of PCs declined 1.4 per cent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2011, as weak demand from consumers and businesses caused shipments to stall, according to the latest figures from Gartner.
Worldwide PC sales had fallen slightly in the first quarter of 2011 by 1.1 per cent year-on-year but then had increased slightly in the second and third quarters.
However in Europe, PC sales have seen a continuous decline, tumbling 19 per cent in the second quarter of 2011 and 11 per cent in the third, compared to the same period a year ago. In the final quarter of 2011, PC sales have declined 9.6 per cent since last year.
"Consumers are not replacing their PCs anymore," said Gartner analyst, Ranjit Atwal.
"Vendors need to think about how to get users to start buying new PCs. Their savior may just be the Ultrabook."
According to the Gartner report, PC shipments will continue to decline this year as the impact of the Thailand floods on the cost of hard drives continues.
The Gartner figures show that HP remains the leader in the PC market, although it is fast losing share to Lenovo.
HP experienced a shipment decline of 16.2 per cent year-on-year, while Lenovo experienced a strong growth of 23 per cent over the same period. The firms' respective market shares are now 18.8 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively.
Gartner said HP's poor PC sales during 2011 were partly caused by the confusion customers felt when the firm announced it would sell off its PC business, only to change its mind two months later.
Ultrabooks have yet to have an impact on the market as they were introduced in the run up to Christmas 2011 by the major vendors, but 2012 could be a big year, according to Kitagawa.
"Ultrabooks didn't seem to draw consumers' attention. Consumers had very little understanding and awareness of ultrabooks and only a small group of consumers was willing to pay the price premium for such models," she added.
"However, as has been seen this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show show, 2012 is a big debut stage for ultrabooks.
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