Gartner: PC shipments decline as market shifts to personal tablets, shared PCs

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IDC reported similar findings on Friday, and now Gartner has chimed in with its own figures suggesting the PC industry continues to decline in the face of smaller, cheaper, and more portable computing devices. The research firm says worldwide PC shipments for Q4 2012 totaled 90.3 million units, a decline of 4.9% over 2011′s 95 million, with a shift in both consumer habits and a fragile economy playing a part in the decline.

Mikako Kitagawa, prinicpal analyst at Gartner, said that tablets weren’t so much “cannibalizing” the sales of PCs, but they'll mark a shift in consumption and product ownership. Kitagawa suggests that a single shared computer can often suffice for a family's creative and administrative computing tasks, with individuals getting their own tablet instead of a laptop or desktop for personal stuff.

"This transformation was triggered by the availability of compelling low-cost tablets in 2012, and will continue until the installed base of PCs declines to accommodate tablets as the primary consumption device," she said. “There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm.”

Gartner: Top 5 vendors, worldwide PC shipments, fourth quarter 2012 (preliminary)

Company 4Q12 shipped 4Q12 market share 4Q11 shipped 4Q11 market share Growth
HP 14,645,041 16.2% 14,711,280 15.5% -0.5%
Lenovo 13,976,668 15.5% 12,915,766 13.6% 8.2%
Dell 9,206,391 10.2% 9,206,391 12.2% -20.9%
Acer 8,622,701 9.5% 9,690,624 10.2% -11.0%
Asus 6,528,228 7.2% 6,133,042 6.5% 6.4%
Others 37,393,913 41.4% 39,934,184 42.0% -6.4%
Total 90,372,942 100% 95,018,284 100% -4.9%

Laptops and netbooks were down by 11% during the quarter, while desktop PCs were down by 6%. HP managed to steal back the top spot in worldwide PC shipments from Chinese rival Lenovo. However, the former is still seeing negative growth year-on-year whereas Lenovo did experience an 8.2% boost. Dell came in third but its shipments were down nearly 21% from last year.

Regarding Windows 8, the research firm said Microsoft's latest operating system did not have a significant impact on PC shipments during the quarter, mainly due to "lackluster form factors" in PC vendor offerings and a "lack of excitement" over touch functionality in tablets.

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