Q1 PC Shipments: There's A New No. 2

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Lenovo passed Dell in first-quarter PC shipments, while Hewlett-Packard continued to lead all vendors worldwide, according to research firm IDC.

HP shipped 15.7 million PCs, 18 percent of the total number shipped, up 3.2 percent from the 15.2 million PCs it shipped in the first quarter last year, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

Lenovo shipped 11.7 million PCs in the first quarter, up 43.7 percent from the same period last year. Overall, Lenovo has 13.4 percent of the worldwide PC market share.

Dell shipped 10.1 million PCs (11.6 percent share), compared to 10.3 million in the year-ago quarter.

Acer finished fourth with 8.6 million shipments (9.9 percent share), down 3.7 percent from last year, and Asus gained significant ground to finish fifth with 5.3 million PCs shipped, up 22 percent from the same period last year.

Overall, the worldwide PC market shipped 87.1 million units, up 2.3 percent from last year. The totals from all vendors outside the top five dropped 6.5 percent.

Lenovo's phenomenal growth rate is due to its ability to "capitalize on the missteps of others in the PC market" and expand its channel reach in the Americas and Europe, according to IDC in a statement.

Meanwhile, Asus saw its strongest gains in Asia-Pacific and EMEA, which represents the large majority of its shipments, according to IDC. "Although its U.S. business barely changed from a year ago, the vendor has stepped in to fill the void left by other vendors, making inroads that it may be able to build on going forward," wrote IDC in the statement.

From a geographic standpoint, PC shipments in the U.S. increased a modest 1 percent in the first quarter, in line with IDC's previous forecast of 0.6 percent growth, according to the research firm. "The quarter's performance [in the U.S.] reflects ongoing market changes as consumers consider the forthcoming release of Windows 8 amid competition from media tablets and a slow economy," wrote IDC.

Hard-drive constraints and a still-weak economy accounted for limited growth, according to IDC.

Meanwhile, Raymond James & Associates does not expect any meaningful drag from hard-drive constraints going forward, wrote Brian Alexander, managing director, technology supply chain, at Raymond James.

"The second half of 2012 should show more meaningful industry unit growth, as OEMs position themselves for the release of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system and Intel's Ivy Bridge processor (ultrabooks). As a result, we expect year-over-year PC unit growth to ramp toward 10 percent by 4Q12," Alexander wrote in a report.

NEXT: HP Rebuilding Momentum

HP's U.S. market share, 28 percent, is the company's highest first-quarter mark, Raymond James noted.

"This performance, in our opinion, suggests the fallout from the August 18 announcement that it might exit the PC business has eased," wrote Raymond James' Alexander. "We believe HP is rebuilding momentum with the channel based on our conversations with resellers and distributors and note that Meg Whitman is doing a nice job communicating and executing on channel commitment. Recent channel policy changes that de-emphasize direct sales are resonating."

In addition, Alexander wrote that HP's decision to combine its Personal Systems Group and the Imaging and Printing Group should make it easier to do business with HP, rectifying a common complaint from the channel.

"These factors should not be underestimated given the majority of HP's sales go through the channel and recent uncertainty about HP's PC business, channel commitment and ability to execute have contributed to dismal results," Alexander wrote.

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