PC shipments take a dive

 

Thai floods take toll on Windows through 2012.

Analyst firms Gartner and IDC have reported PC shipments slipped by up to 1.4 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2011, as HP continued to lose its grip on the top spot. 

The analyst reports came after Microsoft's chief financial officer of Windows Tami Reller this week said the decline could be more than minus one percent, referring to the impact of Thailand's floods on Windows. 

HP's PC shipments fell 16 percent or about three million units compared with the prior year's fourth quarter results, according to Gartner. The PC maker's lead on second runner, Lenovo, shrunk from 10 million units in Q4 2010 to just two million this quarter.

PC manufacturers shipped 92.1 million machines worldwide last quarter, down 1.4 percent year-on-year, and 352 million for the year, up half a percent, according to Gartner.

IDC reported 92.7 million units for the quarter and 352 million units for 2011. 

Despite Reller's warning for Windows sales, the analyst firms noted the impact of Thailand's floods were limited this quarter, but predicted further declines in 2012.

IDC predicted 5.4 percent growth for 2012 and a return to growth above 10 percent by 2013.  

Microsoft's Reller estimated it would take a "couple of quarters" for the supply constraints stemming from the floods to be worked out. 

Lenovo and Asus shipments were up 23 percent and 20.5 percent respectively while Dell grew 7.8 percent, by Gartner's figures. Acer shipments declined 18.4 percent. 

The decline in HP's PC business over the year was less dramatic with its 60.5 million units shipped marking a 3.5 percent fall compared with 2010. HP's 17.2 percent market share is still four points higher than Lenovo with 13 percent and Dell with 12.1 percent.  

Despite some financial analysts placing Apple in the top five PC makers worldwide, IDC and Gartner figures do not. Canalys, which includes tablets in PC measurements, places Apple neck and neck with HP and estimates around 60 million tablets, mostly iPads, were sold this year. 

IDC vice president of worldwide consumer device tracker noted the PC industry still needed to work through hard disk shortages, the launch of Windows 8 and designing more mobile PCs. 

Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said Intel's Ultrabooks, with many launched at the  Consumer Electronics Show last week, had so far failed to capture the attention of consumers yet.

"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," said Kitagawa.

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