HP, Lenovo, Acer Lead Slowing PC Market

Most of the major PC vendors struggled to maintain growth momentum or fell into decline as the worldwide market cools.

Shipments of PCs worldwide stalled in the second quarter of 2012, according to reports from IT research firms Gartner and IDC, with both firms reporting sales fell 0.1 percent compared with a year ago. The results were slightly below IDC's May projections of a 2.1 percent year-on-year growth. Gartner reported worldwide PC shipments totaled 87.5 million units for the quarter, led by Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Acer and Dell. In the United States, PC shipments totaled 15.9 million units in the second quarter of 2012, a 5.7 percent decline from the same period last year.

Market leader HP accounted for 14.9 percent of the market, but its global shipments declined 12.1 percent, according to Gartner, and continued to lead the U.S. PC market, accounting for 25 percent of PC shipments in the second quarter of 2012. Lenovo€™s shipment growth continued to exceed the worldwide average, narrowing the market share gap with HP€”Lenovo€™s worldwide market share now stands at 14.7 percent, a nearly 15 percent increase compared with the second quarter of 2011. Acer placed third with more modest growth (3.6 percent) and 11 percent market share. Dell saw a sharp 11.5 percent decline in shipments to land in fourth place with 10.7 percent market share.

€œIn the second quarter of 2012, the PC market suffered through its seventh consecutive quarter of flat to single-digit growth,€ Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in prepared remarks. €œUncertainties in the economy in various regions, as well as consumer€™s low interest in PC purchases, were some of the key influencers of slow PC shipment growth. Despite the high expectations for the thin and light notebook segment, Ultrabooks, shipment volume was small and little impact on overall shipment growth.€

The U.S. market fared worse than expected, shrinking by 10.6 percent compared to a forecast of 4.4 percent, according to IDC figures. Among the top-tier leaders, only Lenovo managed to maintain positive momentum by growing its channel reach and being more aggressive against its well established competitors. However, at 6.1 percent year on year growth, IDC researchers noted even Lenovo's growth decelerated abruptly from previous quarters' double-digit growth rates, further reflecting slow market conditions in the U.S.

"The U.S. market suffered a double-digit contraction in 2Q12 as market saturation and economic factors combine with anticipation of Windows 8 and other changes later in the year. In this context, consumers are delaying purchases, and vendors and retailers are slowing down their PC activities to clear existing inventories. The situation is exacerbated by consumer notebook saturation, a slowing replacement cycle in the commercial sector, and the big macro-economic and political events affecting confidence and spending," David Daoud, research director at IDC, said in a prepared statement. "We don't expect PCs using Win 8 to boost growth significantly until Q4 - which leads to a conservative outlook for the third quarter."