Low consumer demand pushes worldwide PC shipments down in Q4 ‘11: Gartner

Low consumer demand pushes worldwide PC shipments down in Q4 ‘11: Gartner

Lenovo and Dell keep up the pace, but HP falters due to Personal Systems Group fiasco

Worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2011 have declined by 1.4 per cent compared with the same quarter in the previous year, according to Gartner.

The analyst firm’s preliminary PC market results found the decline was slightly more than its earlier expectation of 1.0 per cent.

The result was attributed to weaker consumer PC demand and lack of compelling new products.

While PC shipments in Asia-Pacific reached 30.4 million units in Q4 of 2011, an 8.5 per cent increase from a year earlier, Gartner had predicted growth of 10.6 per cent.

The lower number is attributed to weaker shipment growth in China, India and Thailand.

While the hard-disk drive shortage of 2011 may have been big news, Gartner did not find it to have much impact in Q4 of the year, but did foresee it being felt in the first quarter of 2012 and throughout the remainder of the year.

“Continuously low consumer PC demand resulted in weak holiday PC shipments,” Gartner principal analyst, Mikako Kitagawa, said.

“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.”

Despite the professional PC market being in a healthy state, as well as growth in emerging markets, Kitagawa felt that these factors could not “compensate for the weaknesses in mature markets", with overall growth still negative.

Vendors such as Lenovo and Dell, ranked second and third respectively, gained share in the quarter, while Apple continued to gain share despite not being in the global top-five rankings.

Hewlett-Packard lost share in most regions. Gartner attributed this to the company’s unusual announcement to sell its Personal Systems Group (PSG), as well as its backtracking on the plan.

“While the company’s new CEO, Meg Whitman, cleared up some confusion surrounding its PC business, its Q4 results were affected by the noise around this issue,” Kitagawa said.

“HP also had to battle against aggressive pricing from competitors and deal with weak consumer PC demand in the holiday season.”

Gartner plans to release a detailed breakdown of sales by country in February once the final results are published.

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