Gartner Says Declining Worldwide PC Shipments in Fourth Quarter of 2012 Signal Structural Shift of PC Market

According to a new report from Gartner, worldwide PC shipments totaled 90.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 4.9 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2011.

“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalizing’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

“Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC. There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be [the] exception and not the norm. Therefore, we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet.”

“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,” Kitagawa continued. “On the positive side for vendors, the disenfranchised PCs are those with lighter configurations, which mean that we should see an increase in PC average selling prices (ASPs) as users replace machines used for richer applications, rather than for consumption.”

According to Gartner, consumers over the holiday season consumers no longer viewed PCs as the number one gift item, but rather directed their interests towards a variety of increasingly more attractive devices and services. Analysts said there was uptake of very low priced notebooks as a part of mega holiday deals, but this uptake did little to boost holiday PC sales. Additionally, the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 did not have a significant impact on PC shipments in the fourth quarter.

The report shows that HP regained the top position in worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012, but the company’s shipments did not grow as compared to a year ago. Lenovo dropped to second position in the fourth quarter of 2012, but it experienced the best growth rate at 8.2 percent among the top five PC vendors worldwide. Dell came in at third place followed by Acer Group, ASUS, and all other PC sales. This data includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets.

(For additional information on this report, contact: Gartner, 408-468-8312, www.gartner.com.)

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