Hewlett-Packard received some welcome news May 2 when a global research firm declared it the world's current No. 1 PC supplier, surpassing Apple.
According to research firm Canalys, HP passed Apple's PC shipments by about 40,000 units in the first quarter of 2012, with about 15.84 million shipped. Apple's numbers include iPad shipments as part of its PC count.
HP does not market a tablet PC at this time, although it did sell its TouchPad model for several months in 2011 and is planning to market a new version later this year.
Apple had been No. 1 for one quarter, having built its previous lead on its holiday-season fourth-quarter 2011 iPad shipments of 15 million units. However, in the first quarter of 2012, Apple's iPad shipments fell to 11.8 million, which brought its PC total to 15.8 million. At the same time, HP's PC shipments held steady.
This has to be especially gratifying for HP's Palo Alto, Calif.- and Houston-based Personal Systems Group, which was ticketed to be spun off or sold a year ago under former CEO Leo Apotheker. In her first major decision, current CEO Meg Whitman reversed that strategy and assured the company and its investors that HP would remain in the PC business for a long time to come.
Canalys listed the top five PC suppliers as HP, Apple, Lenovo, Acer and Dell, in that order. Third-place Lenovo appears to be on a fast track with year-on-year growth of 50 percent; Acer and Dell each experienced a slight year-over-year decline in shipments, Canalys said.
Dell marketed a tablet PC for a short time in 2010 but dropped the product in 2011.
Canalys reported that the overall PC market grew by 21 percent to 107 million units. While tablet shipments grew the most, by 200 percent, notebook and desktop PC shipments also rose by 11 percent and 8 percent, respectively. However, netbook shipments slipped down 34 percent and have fallen for six straight quarters, according to Canalys.