Tablets, smartphones still hammering PC market

PC market remains flat while Lenovo gets closer to catching market leader HP

Tablets and smartphones -- and users' infatuation with them -- continue to pummel the PC market.

Worldwide PC shipments were flat this past quarter, just like they were for the previous six quarters before that, according to a report out Wednesday from the research firm Gartner.

PC shipments globally totaled 87.5 million units in the second quarter of 2012. That is a decline of 0.1% from the second quarter of the previous year.

"In the second quarter of 2012, the PC market suffered through its seventh consecutive quarter of flat to single-digit growth," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a written statement. "Uncertainties in the economy in various regions, as well as consumer's low interest in PC purchases, were some of the key influencers of slow PC shipment growth."

Kitagawa noted that despite analysts' and PC makers' high expectations for ultrabooks, which are thin and light laptops with long battery life, not enough were sold in the second quarter of this year to have an impact on the market.

However, since ultrabooks are extremely new to the market -- with the Intel Ivy Bridge-based ultrabooks just released toward the end of Q2 -- their effect may not be seen till later in the year.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said he expects tablets and smartphones to continue to punish the PC industry. "This is a generational change," he said. "This isn't a temporary phenomenon. PCs are great for information creation, where tablets and smartphones are better for information consumption and we're mainly consumers, not creators."

And that, according to Kerravala, should be making PC makers quake in their boots.

HP, the world's top PC maker, actually was able to hold onto its top spot in the second quarter despite a global shipment decline of 12.1%. Gartner is putting the blame for HP's bad numbers on the company's re-organization and pricing pressure from second-place Lenovo.

China-based Lenovo, which last month talked up plans to surpass HP, is looking at much rosier numbers.

Gartner said Lenovo continued in the last quarter to show shipment growth that exceeded the worldwide average, significantly narrowing the market share gap with HP. Lenovo now has 14.7% of the market, compared to HP's 14.9%.

"Lenovo's aggressive expansion damaged its competitor's performance, namely HP and Dell, by taking shares from them," Gartner reported.

Acer is in third place in the worldwide market with 11%. Dell is closely behind Acer with 10.7% of the market and ASUS wraps up the fifth position with 7%.

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 sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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