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Worldwide PC shipments to suffer in 2012 thanks to Thailand floods, says Gartner

Worldwide PC shipments, which suffered a 1.4% decline in December quarter after two quarters of positive growth, are set to suffer significantly during the coming quarters.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jan 12, 2012, 04.14 PM IST
HYDERABAD: Worldwide PC shipments, which suffered a 1.4% decline in December quarter after two quarters of positive growth, are set to suffer significantly during the coming quarters to continue throughout 2012 thanks to hard-disk drive (HDD) shortages triggered by the October 2011 floods in Thailand, says global IT research firm Gartner.

The HDD shortages triggered by the October 2011 floods in Thailand had a limited impact on December quarter PC shipments and prices. However, the Gartner analysts said a major impact will be felt in the first half of 2012 and potentially continue throughout 2012. The HDD shortages will temporarily lower PC shipment growth during 2012.

For the year 2011, the worldwide PC shipments totalled 352.8 million units, a growth of 0.5% over 2010 owing to a weak consumer PC market, particularly in mature markets, despite good growth in the professional market. Driven by low initial PC penetration, the emerging markets grew steadily.

Among the top five PC vendors, Lenovo took over the No. 2 spot from Dell. According to Gartner, Lenovo continued to gain market share through aggressive pricing and acquisitions that include NEC and Medion. Asus climbed to fifth from sixth, replacing Toshiba.

Analysing the languished worldwide PC shipments market, Gartner's principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said, “Continuously low consumer PC demand resulted in weak holiday PC shipments."

According to her, "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."

Further, she said, ultra books quietly introduced into the market during December holiday season didn't seem to draw consumers' attention. "Consumers had very little understanding and awareness of ultra books, and only a small group of consumers was willing to pay the price premium for such models. However, as has been seen this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show, 2012 is a big debut stage for ultra books."

Despite a shipment decline of 16.2% year-over-year, HP retained No. 1 position in the fourth quarter of 2011. Gartner says though the company's new CEO Meg Whitman cleared up some confusion surrounding its PC business, its December results were affected by the noise around the issue. Further, HP also had to battle against aggressive pricing from competitors and deal with weak consumer PC demand in the holiday season.

Lenovo further cemented is place as the No. 2 vendor in global PC shipments by recording a strongest growth of 23% in PC shipments during December quarter. Lenovo's growth was attributed to its aggressive pricing in both the professional and consumer markets.

For Dell, it was a good quarter in terms of PC shipment growth in most regions. Though consumer market remained a weak point, Dell enjoyed stable growth in the professional sector, largely driven by upgrades to Windows 7. With 30% growth, the Asia Pacific market continued to be the major growth market for Dell.

With a successful shift from mini-notebooks to regular notebooks, Asus climbed to No. 5 position. Close to 80% of its mobile PC shipments were regular notebooks in December quarter.

PC shipments in the US market totalled 17.9 million units, a fall of 5.9% from same period a year ago, and holiday sales weren't that exciting for PC vendors. According to Gartner, the consumers' attention was diverted towards other product categories such as smart phones and media tablets. While the main attractions were large screen sizes and high-definition viewing capability, the all-in-one (AIO) desktop PCs also drew consumers' attention during the holiday season.

In the US market, Dell gained ground with 22.4% market share as HP lost substantial market with a negative growth of 26.1% in the December quarter through it maintained the No. 1 position with 23.1% market share. Apple enjoyed the strongest growth of 20.7% among the top five vendors to secure No. 3 position. Though Lenovo's US shipments grew 40% year-over-year, the shipment volume wasn't enough to squeeze into the top five ranking.

According to Gartner, the PC shipments in EMEA at 28.9 million units saw a 9.6% decline, while the Asia Pacific region reported PC shipments of 30.4 million units to record 8.5% increase in December quarter. However, the Asia Pacific market growth was below the Gartner's anticipated growth of 10.6% as the preliminary findings show weaker shipment growth in China, India and Thailand.

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