In its battle for the top spot in the rocky PC industry, Hewlett-Packard has edged out rival Lenovo to take back its leadership position.
Last October, HP, which had long held the No. 1 position in the worldwide PC market, suddenly had a challenger: China-based Lenovo. When third-quarter reports came out, one analysis firm had HP retaining its leadership position, while another firm showed Lenovo grabbing the lead spot.
Now with fourth quarter numbers out, HP is at the top of both analyst lists again.
"This is a monumental win for HP and it shows that if HP decides to flex their PC muscle, they can at least moderate and even increase share," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "This isn't positive for Lenovo as many market watchers just assumed they would have the No. 1 market share right now."
"Because perception is reality, many will assume something didn't go as planned for Lenovo," he said.
And IDC had HP holding its position despite slowing sales -- shipment totals were 0.6% lower than last year while Lenovo's grew by 8.2%.
Today, Gartner, the analysis firm that had given the PC market lead to Lenovo last fall, reported that HP had reclaimed its position.
Gartner said HP shipped 14.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, grabbing 16.2% of the global market. Lenovo, on the other hand, shipped 13.9 million units last quarter, with 15.5% of the market.
However, while HP showed 0.5% loss between the fourth quarter of 2011 and last quarter, Lenovo showed an 8.2% growth.
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Dell, shipping 9.2 million units in the fourth quarter, came in third with 10.2% of the worldwide market. Acer Group came in fourth with 8.6 million units shipped and 9.5% of the market. Asus rounded out the top five with 6.5 million units and 7.2% of the market.
The shift, Moorhead said, came down to HP making several strong moves and Lenovo not maintaining its momentum.
"First, HP launched a compelling assortment of products for the spring refresh, which was leveraged into the holiday selling cycle," he added. "Secondly, HP stuck to the fundamentals, which were to offer a broad lineup at the right prices with the right market development funds, across the board in all regions."
And that leaves Lenovo in a position to make another push for the top spot.
"Lenovo is in a precarious position in that many thought they would have the No. 1 spot now, but they do not," said Moorhead. "Their latest products launched at CES are a step up, but to drive to the No. 1 spot, Lenovo needs to continue their emerging region march, but they also need to find a way to penetrate U.S. retail in some meaningful way."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is email@example.com.