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Soft PC Shipments in Fourth Quarter Lead to Annual Decline as HP Holds Onto Top Spot, According to IDC

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 89.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), down 6.4% compared to the same quarter in 2011 and worse than the forecasted decline of 4.4%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. Although the quarter marked the beginning of a new stage in the PC industry with the launch of Windows 8, its impact did not quickly change recently sluggish PC demand, and the PC market continued to take a back seat to competing devices and sustained economic woes. As a result, the fourth quarter of 2012 marked the first time in more than five years that the PC market has seen a year-on-year decline during the holiday season.

The lackluster fourth quarter results were not entirely surprising given the spate of challenges the PC market faced over the course of 2012. IDC had expected the second half of 2012 to be difficult. Consumers as well as PC vendors and distribution channels continued to be diverted from PC sales by ongoing demand for tablets and smartphones. In addition, questions about the use of touch on Windows PCs vs. tablets slowed commercial spending on 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."

"As anticipated, the U.S. market had a rough ending, dropping 4.5% in the fourth quarter and contributing to a decline of 7% for the full year 2012," said David Daoud, research director, IDC U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker. "Consumers expected all sorts of cool PCs with tablet and touch capabilities. Instead, they mostly saw traditional PCs that feature a new OS (Windows 8) optimized for touch and tablet with applications and hardware that are not yet able to fully utilize these capabilities. Despite a generally weak performance, some leading brands managed do to well relative to the market. HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Samsung were among the top performers, taking advantage of some consumer interest in Windows 8, and a push to build up their presence ahead of 2013."

Regional Highlights

United States – The U.S. market struggled in the fourth quarter of 2012, although to a lesser extent than expected given the channel replenishment activity that occurred in December. Some consumer activity took place in conjunction with the release of Windows 8. However, limitations in product offerings, in particular for touch screen Tablet PCs, led consumers to once again delay purchases. Consumer-focused vendors like HP and Asian majors like Lenovo, Asus, and Samsung managed strong performances, partly in response to modest consumer demand, and partly due to channel activity in December ahead of the anticipated 1H13 Windows 8 push. The rest of the industry continued to take a wait-and-see approach as consumer attitudes toward Windows 8 are clarified.

EMEA – The EMEA PC market performed in line with expectations in 4Q12, with shipments declining at a mid single-digit rate from a year ago. Although sell-in of Windows 8 systems accelerated by early December, helped by the new Ultra Slim offerings, consumers continued to shun PC purchases in favor of attractively priced tablets and smartphones, particularly during the end-of-year Christmas season. Commercial purchases also remained weak, softened by persisting uncertainty in the economic situation across the region.

Japan – Japan registered growth that was slightly positive, but still several points below forecast. Consumer demand was expected to be weak as the first batch of Windows 8 machines was markedly more expensive than previous generation models. However, the impending ending of Windows XP support helped to boost commercial volume, where companies have been steadily upgrading to Windows 7 for the past several quarters.

Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) – The Asia/Pacific region came in slightly below forecasts, as channels in most countries focused on clearing out existing Windows 7 inventory before bringing in fresh Windows 8 stock. China was not too far off target, though ongoing sluggishness in the economy as well as a slowdown in public sector projects kept the PC market there suppressed this quarter.

Vendor Highlights

HP continued to defend its top position in IDC's worldwide ranking, recovering somewhat from past weakness in key markets. An aggressive push for Windows 8 volume helped the vendor make gains in Asia/Pacific and its home turf in the U.S. HP struggled in EMEA but posted the first year-over-year growth in Asia/Pacific in four quarters. Total volume was nearly flat from a year ago, but better than the overall market.

Lenovo outpaced the market with growth of over 8%. Volume reached a new record-high of more than 14 million units, with continued success in channel wins in the U.S. and EMEA. Despite the positive performance, Lenovo's gains remained significantly smaller than several quarters ago when the company was besting market growth by nearly 30%.

Dell continued to lose ground as it faces aggressive competition from other leaders and looks for better margins. Worldwide shipments were down over 20% year over year – faster than declines over the past several years – with U.S. volume declining almost as much. The firm did manage sequential growth in most other markets.

Acer Group, like a few other vendors, remains heavily dependent on consumer spending. As a result, it has continued to suffer as consumers focus on other products. At the same time, Acer's cautious approach to the Windows 8 transition has contributed to slower notebook shipments.

ASUS held onto its top 5 spot globally and stretched the distance between itself and other consumer-focused vendors with growth of 5.6% year on year. The firm racked-up strong gains across many regions, where its often innovative yet price-conscious offerings still managed to take root in spite of an increasingly tough landscape.

 
Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide PC Shipments, Fourth Quarter 2012 (Preliminary)

(Units Shipments are in thousands)

                     
Vendor       4Q12
Shipments
    4Q12 Market
Share
    4Q11
Shipments
    4Q11 Market
Share
    4Q12/4Q11
Growth
 
HP 15,023 16.7% 15,113 15.8% -0.6%
Lenovo 14,105 15.7% 13,040 13.6% 8.2%
Dell 9,482 10.6% 11,967 12.5% -20.8%
Acer Group 6,959 7.8% 9,692 10.1% -28.2%
ASUS 6,467 7.2% 6,126 6.4% 5.6%
 
Others 37,753 42.0% 39,974 41.7% -5.6%
 
All Vendors 89,789 100.0% 95,913 100.0% -6.4%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, January 10, 2013

Table notes follow the last table

In addition to the table above, a graphic showing the relative market shares of the top 5 PC vendors over the previous five quarters is available on IDC.com. The chart is intended for public use in online news articles and social media. Instructions on how to embed this graphic can be found by viewing this press release on IDC.com.

 
Top 5 Vendors, United States PC Shipments, Fourth Quarter 2012 (Preliminary)

(Units Shipments are in thousands)

                     
Vendor       4Q12
Shipments
    4Q12 Market
Share
    4Q11
Shipments
    4Q11 Market
Share
    4Q12/4Q11
Growth
 
1. HP 4,797 27.0% 4,266 23.0% 12.4%
2. Dell 3,475 19.6% 4,166 22.4% -16.6%
3. Apple 2,030 11.4% 2,033 10.9% -0.2%
4. Lenovo 1,504 8.5% 1,348 7.3% 11.6%
5. Toshiba 1,256 7.1% 1,900 10.2% -33.9%
 
Others 4,685 26.4% 4,862 26.2% -3.6%
 
Total 17,747 100.0% 18,575 100.0% -4.5%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, January 10, 2013

Table notes follow the last table

 
Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide PC Shipments, 2012 (Preliminary)

(Units Shipments are in thousands)

                     
Vendor       2012
Shipments
    2012 Market
Share
    2011
Shipments
    2011 Market
Share
    2012/2011
Growth
 
1. HP 58,129 16.5% 62,321 17.1% -6.7%
2. Lenovo 52,448 14.9% 44,016 12.1% 19.2%
3. Dell 38,718 11.0% 44,278 12.2% -12.6%
4. Acer Group 33,494 9.5% 37,073 10.2% -9.7%
5. ASUS 24,134 6.8% 20,619 5.7% 17.0%
 
Others 145,498 41.3% 155,580 42.8% -6.5%
 
All Vendors 352,421 100.0% 363,887 100.0% -3.2%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, January 10, 2013

Table notes follow the last table

 
Top 5 Vendors, United States PC Shipments, 2012 (Preliminary)

(Units Shipments are in thousands)

                     
Vendor       2012
Shipments
    2012 Market
Share
    2011
Shipments
    2011 Market
Share
    2012/2011
Growth
 
1. HP 17,856 26.8% 18,587 26.0% -3.9%
2. Dell 14,062 21.1% 15,898 22.2% -11.5%
3. Apple 7,585 11.4% 7,656 10.7% -0.9%
4. Lenovo 5,278 7.9% 4,706 6.6% 12.2%
5. Toshiba 4,593 6.9% 6,670 9.3% -31.1%
 
Others 17,150 25.8% 18,033 25.2% -4.9%
 
Total 66,524 100.0% 71,550 100.0% -7.0%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, January 10, 2013

Table Notes:

  • Some IDC estimates prior to financial earnings reports.
  • Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the vendor/brand under which they are sold.
  • PCs include Desktops, Portables, Mini Notebooks and do not include handhelds, workstations, x86 Servers and Media Tablets (i.e. iPad and Android-based Tablets). Data for all vendors are reported for calendar periods.

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker gathers PC market data in over 80 countries by vendor, form factor, brand, processor brand and speed, sales channel and user segment. The research includes historical and forecast trend analysis as well as price band and installed base data.

For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 650-350-6423 or knagamine@idc.com.

About IDC Trackers
IDC Tracker products provide accurate and timely market size, vendor share, and forecasts for hundreds of technology markets from more than 100 countries around the globe. Using proprietary tools and research processes, IDC's Trackers are updated on a semiannual, quarterly, and monthly basis. Tracker results are delivered to clients in user-friendly excel deliverables and on-line query tools. The IDC Tracker Charts app allows users to view data charts from the most recent IDC Tracker products on their iPhone and iPad.

About IDC
IDC is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. For more than 48 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting www.idc.com.

All product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

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