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HP regains top slot in worldwide PC market

Lenovo flying, Dell not fairing so well

By Jason Stamper

HP regained the top position in worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012, however the company’s shipments did not grow compared to a year ago. Analysts said HP most likely gave up a certain margin level to gain market shares. HP was successful in managing large retail deals targeting Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch and holiday sales in selected regions.

Lenovo dropped to the No. 2 position in the fourth quarter of 2012, but it experienced the best growth rate (8.2%) among the top five PC vendors worldwide. Lenovo’s growth exceeded regional growth rates in North America, EMEA and Asia/Pacific, but lower than the industry average in Latin America and Japan. In North America, Lenovo performed well by expanding in the retail market and protecting the professional market.

In the U.S., PC shipments totalled 17.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 2.1% decline from the fourth quarter of 2011. Due to the tight inventory control and preparation for the Windows 8 launch, most PC vendors were able to ship Windows 8 PCs to the retail space. However, PC sell-through was rather weak which leaves some level of inventory concerns for vendors in the consumer market.

"Consumer’s holiday spending went into other products and services, and U.S. holiday sales became less important for PC sales. For professionals, the fourth quarter is typically a good sales season because of last minutes PC purchases before the tax year-end. Our early research indicates that there was good growth in professional PC sales," Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said.

In EMEA specifically, PC shipments in totalled 28.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 9.6% decrease from the fourth quarter of 2011. Western Europe remained the weak point across EMEA, as Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa saw growth quarter-on-quarter.

HP retained the No. 1 position in the fourth quarter of 2012, thanks to good results across all products in the professional PC segment. Dell performed weakly, losing nearly 2% share in the fourth quarter of 2012. Among the top five vendors, only Lenovo showed year-on-year growth and its strong performance in the quarter helped it displace Acer from the No. 2 position.

In the second half of 2012, the EMEA PC market experienced two consecutive quarters of decline, resulting in overall shipments for 2012 declining 2.8% from 2011. Western Europe lost another 10% of volume, indicating likely structural changes to the market rather than weak demand, Gartner said. The firm has already confirmed it believes tablets are replacing PC purchases, particularly at the lower end or for users who predominantly consumer media and information on their devices, rather than producing it.

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