Windows 8 Debut Marred by "Soft" PC Shipments, HP Retains Lead Over Lenovo

Paul Lilly

Windows PC shipments declined 6.4 percent in Q4 2012.

Even though the fourth quarter of 2012 kicked off a new era in computing with the launch of Windows 8, it wasn't enough to prop up the PC market and save it from sluggish demand. In fact, the most recent holiday shopping season was the first in five years to see a year-on-year decline in PC demand, according to the latest data from International Data Corporation (IDC).

Worldwide PC shipments came to 89.8 million units in Q4 of last year, down 6.4 percent compared to the same quarter in 2011. It wasn't really a surprise to IDC, which predicted a "difficult" second half of 2012 due to rising demand for tablets and smartphones, along with uncertainty about the use of touch on Windows PCs.

"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."

Slagging sales may have benefited HP, at least as it pertains to holding onto the top spot in PC shipments. IDC's figures have HP sitting in first place with a 16.7 percent share of the market, even though the company's PC shipments declined 0.6 percent compared to 2011. Lenovo, meanwhile, shipped 8.2 percent more PCs than last year and is breathing down HP's neck with a 15.7 percent share of the PC market. The rest of the lineup looks like this:

  • Dell: 10.6 percent
  • Acer: 7.8 percent
  • Asus: 7.2 percent
  • Others: 42 percent

Only Lenovo seems to have found the secret sauce in its formula for shipping PCs. The OEM outpaced the market and reached a record-high of more than 14 million units.

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