Worldwide PC shipments fell 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to IDC, results that were worse than the research firm's previously forecast decline of 4.4 percent.
Despite the fact that Microsoft Windows 8 launched in the fourth quarter, the recent trend of sluggish PC sales remained. The fourth quarter of 2012 marked the first fourth quarter in five years in which PC unit sales declined compared with the previous year, according to IDC.
The consumer PC market was especially slow as PC sales were impacted by demand for tablets and smartphones, according to IDC. Meanwhile, questions about the use of touch screens on Windows PCs compared with tablets also slowed commercial spending, the research firm said.
"Although the third quarter was focused on the clearing of Windows 7 inventory, preliminary research indicates the clearance did not significantly boost the uptake of Windows 8 systems in Q4," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. "Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience. As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as Ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013."
In the U.S., PC sales fell 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter and 7 percent for all of 2012, according to IDC.
"Consumers expected all sorts of cool PCs with tablet and touch capabilities. Instead, they mostly saw traditional PCs that feature a new OS (Windows 8) optimized for touch and tablet with applications and hardware that are not yet able to fully utilize these capabilities," said David Daoud, research director of IDC's U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker.
Hewlett-Packard gained overall share and held onto its top spot as the world's best-selling PC vendor, though its lead was diminished as Lenovo gained ground.
HP sold 15 million PCs in the quarter, for 16.7 percent market share. HP held 15.8 percent share in the year-ago quarter and units shipped fell 0.6 percent.
Lenovo sold 14.1 million PCs in the quarter for 15.7 percent share. In the year-ago quarter, Lenovo had 13.6 percent share.
Dell and Acer showed big declines in the number of units shipped in the fourth quarter compared with the year-ago quarter, 20.8 percent and 28.2 percent, respectively. Worldwide, Dell held 10.6 percent market share and Acer 7.8 percent. Asus rounded out the top five with 7.2 percent share.
In the U.S., HP solidified its lead. The vendor sold 4.8 million PCs for 27 percent share, up from 4.3 million and 23 percent share in the year-ago quarter.
HP called the IDC results a "real feather in our 2012 cap," in a blog post on its website.
"The bottom line is that industry experts like what they're seeing from our engineering department when it comes to the desktops, notebooks, printers, displays and more," the company said in the blog post.
PUBLISHED JAN. 11, 2013