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Analysts See Decline In Worldwide PC Shipments, HP Market Share

Gartner reported that worldwide PC shipments were down 1.4 percent year over year last quarter -- and HP has taken one of the biggest hits.

Statistics published Wednesday by market researcher Gartner suggest worldwide quarterly PC shipments dropped to 92.2 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, a year-over-year decline a 1.4 percent. The statistics also suggest that Lenovo, the world’s second largest PC maker, is hot on the heels of reigning champion Hewlett-Packard.

Gartner reported that HP shipped 14.7 million PC units across the globe during the fourth quarter of 2011, marking a hefty year-over-year decline of 16.2 percent compared to the 17.5 million it shipped during the last quarter of 2010. HP maintained its top spot during the fourth quarter with 16 percent of the PC market share, but slipped from the 18.8 percent it held during the fourth quarter of 2010.

Looming confusion surrounding the future of the company’s PC unit was cited as a hindrance to its growth, along with aggressive pricing from its competitors during the holiday season.

Lenovo, on the other hand, had a strong fourth quarter. The number two PC maker shipped 12.9 million units worldwide and grew 23 percent year over year, boasting the strongest growth rate among the top five vendors on Gartner’s list. Lenovo accounted for 14 percent of the global PC market share in the fourth quarter, up from the 11.3 percent it held during the final quarter of 2010. This growth, Gartner said, can be attributed to Lenovo’s competitive pricing in both professional and consumer markets.

Dell holds the number three spot, having shipped 11.6 million units globally. Its fourth-quarter market share was 12.6 percent, and its shipments grew 7.8 percent year over year. Dell was followed by Acer in the fourth spot, and Asustek in the fifth.

The overall drop in worldwide PC shipments last quarter stemmed largely from low consumer demand during the holiday season, Gartner said. Some statistics, however, were more promising than others. The enterprise (versus the consumer) PC market, for instance, maintained a "healthy" outlook.

"Continuously low consumer PC demand resulted in weak holiday PC shipments," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner in the report. "While economic uncertainty in Western Europe had an effect on consumer PC shipments, expectations of a healthier economic outlook in North America could not stimulate consumer PC demand in that region. The healthy professional PC market as well as growth in emerging markets could not compensate for the weaknesses in mature markets, with overall growth still negative."

Gartner could not provide an exact breakdown between PC sales within consumer and enterprise markets, noting that Wednesday’s report was still preliminary data. Further details, it said, would be available "in a month or so."

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