U.S. Windows PC shipments drop 6% in holiday quarter as Apple Macs surge 21%

After two quarters of positive growth, worldwide PC shipments totaled 92.2 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 1.4 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2010, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. These figures were in line with Gartner’s earlier forecast of a 1 percent decline for the fourth quarter of 2011.
“Continuously low consumer PC demand resulted in weak holiday PC shipments,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “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. The healthy professional PC market as well as growth in emerging markets could not compensate for the weaknesses in mature markets, with overall growth still negative.”

Hard-disk drive (HDD) shortages triggered by the October 2011 floods in Thailand had a limited impact on fourth-quarter PC shipments and prices. However, Gartner analysts said a major impact will be felt, and this is expected to materialize in the first half of 2012, and potentially continue throughout 2012. These shortages will temporarily lower PC shipment growth during 2012.

“Ultrabooks were quietly introduced into the market during the 4Q11 holiday season,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “Ultrabooks didn’t seem to draw consumers’ attention. Consumers had very little understanding and awareness of ultrabooks, and only a small group of consumers was willing to pay the price premium for such models. However, as has been seen this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show, 2012 is a big debut stage for ultrabooks.”

HP retained its No. 1 position in the fourth quarter of 2011, despite a shipment decline of 16.2 percent year over year (see Table 1). While the company’s new CEO, Meg Whitman, cleared up some confusion surrounding its PC business, its 4Q11 results were affected by the noise around this issue. HP also had to battle against aggressive pricing from competitors and deal with weak consumer PC demand in the holiday season.

Table 1: Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 4Q11 (Units)
Gartner: Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 4Q11 (Units)
Note: Data includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad.
Source: Gartner (January 2012)

Lenovo experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors, as its PC shipments grew 23 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, and it further cemented its place as the No. 2 vendor in global PC shipments. The company’s growth was attributed to its aggressive pricing in both the professional and consumer markets.

Dell had a good quarter with shipment growth in most regions. While the consumer market remained a weak point, Dell enjoyed stable growth in the professional sector, driven by upgrades to Windows 7. Asia/Pacific continued to be the major growth market for Dell, as it achieved 30 percent growth in the region. Asus stayed in the No. 5 position despite generally weak consumer sales. Asus’s shift from mini-notebooks to regular notebooks was successful, as close to 80 percent of Asus mobile PCs shipments were regular notebooks in the fourth quarter of 2011.

In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 17.9 million units, a 5.9 percent decline compared with the same quarter last year (see Table 2). U.S. holiday sales were not all that exciting for PC vendors. As expected, consumers’ attention was diverted toward other product categories, especially smartphones and media tablets. All-in-one (AIO) desktop PCs drew consumers’ attention during the holiday season. The main attractions were large screen sizes and high-definition viewing capability.

HP maintained the No. 1 position in the U.S. PC market in the fourth quarter of 2011, but Dell gained ground as HP lost substantial market share in the quarter. Apple enjoyed the strongest growth among the top five vendors. Lenovo’s U.S. PC shipments grew 40 percent year-over-year, but its shipment volume was not enough to squeeze into the top five ranking (it was in the sixth position).

Table 2: Preliminary United States PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 4Q11 (Units)
Gartner: Preliminary United States PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 4Q11 (Units)
Note: Data includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad.
Source: Gartner (January 2012)

PC shipments in EMEA totaled 28.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 9.6 percent decline from the same period in 2010. The EMEA PC market experienced its fourth consecutive quarter of decline, resulting in year-end 2011 shipments decreasing 7.2 percent from 2010. Western Europe saw weak consumer growth, as an uneasy economic environment squeezed consumer spending on PCs.

In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments reached 30.4 million units, an 8.5 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2010. The market performance was below Gartner’s anticipated growth of 10.6 percent. The preliminary findings show weaker shipment growth in China, India and Thailand.

The PC market in Latin America grew 11.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, as shipments reached 9.3 million units. Because whitebox PC vendors make up a large portion of Latin America’s PC market, last quarter Gartner expected Thailand’s HDD shortage to moderately affect growth in Latin America in the near term. Thus far, anecdotal evidence indicates that many local vendors had quickly ordered sufficient inventory to exit the fourth quarter unaffected.

PC shipments in Japan declined 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, as shipments totaled 3.9 million units. This was better than Gartner’s earlier projection of an 8 percent decline. The professional market showed a high double-digit decline, while the consumer market saw mid-single-digit growth.

For the year, worldwide PC shipments totaled 352.8 million units in 2011, a 0.5 percent increase from 2010 (see Table 3). A weak consumer PC market, particularly in mature markets, was a major contributor to this stagnation, despite good growth in the professional market. Emerging markets grew steadily, driven by low initial PC penetration.

Among the top five PC vendors, Lenovo took over the No. 2 spot from Dell. Lenovo continued to gain market share via aggressive pricing and acquisitions, namely of NEC and Medion. Asus climbed from sixth to fifth, replacing Toshiba.

Table 3: Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2011 (Units)
Gartner: Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2011 (Units)
Note: Data includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad.
Source: Gartner (January 2012)

These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner’s PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing product planning, distribution, marketing and sales organizations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe. Additional research can be found on Gartner’s Computing Hardware section on Gartner’s web site at http://www.gartner.com/it/products/research/asset_129157_2395.jsp.

Source: Gartner, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: Now, count the iPads. Go ahead, Gartner, get with the times, you can do it. Apple is the world’s #1 personal computer maker.

Related articles:
J.P. Morgan: Apple’s MacBook Air to dominate ultrabook market – December 12, 2011
Why Apple will be the world’s #1 personal computer maker in 2012 – December 5, 2011
Apple on track to overtake HP, become leading global PC vendor – November 21, 2011
Gartner: Apple Mac share up 20% in Europe YOY as PC shipments plunge 11.4% – November 14, 2011
Surging iPad shipments propel Apple to #1 in worldwide mobile computer market share – February 16, 2011
Canalys unafraid to count iPad, puts Apple third in worldwide PC market share – January 26, 2011
DisplaySearch not afraid to count iPad: Apple #1 mobile PC maker in North America, #3 in world – December 7, 2010


      1. Why oh why doesn’t Gartner include the Apple “PCs”? Wouldn’t an additional “Mac” row in the table add a lot of relevance to those market share tables? Is somebody (anybody, everybody?) afraid to see what is really happening?

  1. Notice that the “Table 2: Preliminary United States PC Vendor…” includes Apple’s numbers.

    Take Apple out of the equation to see the “US Winblows PC Vendor…” numbers.

    It is even scarier: -8.6% drop

  2. Really playing with these numbers again. There was a -8.6% loss in non-Mac PC sales in the USA.

    non-Mac PC = Total PC – Mac

    So last year was:
    17,342,605 = 19,061,005 – 1,718,400

    This year was:
    15,854,964 = 17,929,764 – 2,074,800

    So the missing 1,487,641 PCs were all non-Mac PCs and that is a 8.6% drop in sales of ALL non-Mac PCs. Not 5.9%. 8.6% is a 44.5% bigger a loss than the 5.9%!


      1. True, the iPad would turn overall growth numbers positive but every non-Apple company would have their market share slashed. Reality sucks if you are not Apple.

        Here is their problem now. If you count the iPad, why not the rest of the iOS devices. If you count the iPod touch, iPhone and the iPad, isn’t that about half of the world’s market share now? It would be more than half in the USA.

        They are going to hide the reality as long as they can until no one cares about that source of market share numbers.

    1. Also look at how they can count “mobile pc’s” and “mini notebooks” that have all been trounced by the iPad, but not the iPad!

      W.T.F. Gartner? Micro$haft paying your bill down at the seedy motel?

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