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Global PC shipments decline

Hewlett-Packard retains top spot despite a 16% dip in PC shipments

Global PC shipments decline
Gartner says global quarterly PC shipments dropped to 92.2 million units in Q4 of 2011.

Data published by market researcher Gartner suggest worldwide quarterly PC shipments dropped to 92.2 million units in Q4 of 2011, a year-over-year decline of 1.4%.

The Gartner statistics also suggest that Lenovo, the world's second largest PC maker, is hot on the heels of reigning champion Hewlett-Packard.

Gartner reported that HP shipped 14.7 million PC units across the globe during the fourth quarter of 2011, marking a hefty year-over-year decline of 16.2% compared to the 17.5 million it shipped during the last quarter of 2010. Despite a dip in in shipments, HP maintained its top spot during Q4 of 2010.

Looming confusion surrounding the future of the company's PSG business unit was cited as a hindrance to its growth, along with aggressive pricing from its competitors during the holiday season.

Lenovo, on the other hand, had a strong fourth quarter. The number two PC maker shipped 12.9 million units worldwide and grew 23% year-over-year, boasting the strongest growth rate among the top five PC vendors on Gartner's list. Lenovo accounted for 14% of the global PC market share in the fourth quarter, up from the 11.3% it held during the final quarter of 2010. This growth, Gartner said, can be attributed to Lenovo's competitive pricing in both professional and consumer markets.

Dell holds the number three spot, having shipped 11.6 million units globally. Its fourth-quarter market share was 12.6% and its shipments grew 7.8% year-over-year. Dell was followed by Acer in the fourth spot, and Asustek in fifth.

The overall drop in worldwide PC shipments last quarter stemmed largely from low consumer demand during the holiday season, Gartner said. Some statistics, however, were more promising than others. The enterprise (versus the consumer) PC market, for instance, maintained a ‘healthy' outlook.

"Continuously low consumer PC demand resulted in weak holiday PC shipments," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner in the report. "While economic uncertainty in Western Europe had an effect on consumer PC shipments, expectations of a healthier economic outlook in North America could not stimulate consumer PC demand in that region. The healthy professional PC market, as well as growth in emerging markets could not compensate for the weaknesses in mature markets, with overall growth still negative."

"Ultrabooks were quietly introduced into the market during the 4Q11 holiday season," Kitagawa said. "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. However, as has been seen this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show, 2012 is a big debut stage for ultrabooks."

Gartner could not provide an exact breakdown between PC sales within consumer and enterprise markets, noting that the report was still preliminary data. Further details, it said, would be available ‘in a month or so.'

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