U.S. Windows PC shipments drop 7%, Apple Mac up 4.3% YOY

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 87.5 million units in the second quarter of 2012, a decline of 0.1 percent from the second quarter of 2011, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc.

“In the second quarter of 2012, the PC market suffered through its seventh consecutive quarter of flat to single-digit growth,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “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. Despite the high expectations for the thin and light notebook segment, Ultrabooks, shipment volume was small and little impact on overall shipment growth.”

“Consumers are less interested in spending on PCs as there are other technology product and services, such as the latest smartphones and media tablets that they are purchasing. This is more of a trend in the mature market as PCs are highly saturated in these markets,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “A big portion of R&D spending has been allocated to Ultrabook development, together with Intel’s massive investments to establish the market segment. Though Ultrabook was at first introduced in the market in 2011, the major promotion kicked off toward the end of 2Q12 with the IvyBridge, based Ultrabook release. This segment is still in an early adopter’s stage.”

HP continued to be in the top position in worldwide PC shipments (see Table 1). It accounted for 14.9 percent of the market, but its global shipments declined 12.1 percent. Some of HP’s disappointing results were due to internal issues from the organizational changes. HP’s PC business has not been back to pre re-structuring level yet. The company also faced aggressive pricing from Lenovo in the professional market, and threats from companies such as ASUS and Samsung in the already crowded consumer markets.

Table 1: Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q12 (Units)
Gartner: Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q12 (Units)
Note: Data includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad.
Source: Gartner (July 2012)

Lenovo’ s shipment growth continued to exceed the worldwide average, significantly narrowing the market share gap with HP. Lenovo has been very aggressive to expand through a series of acquisitions, as well as aggressive pricing. Lenovo’s aggressive expansion damaged its competitor’s performance, namely HP and Dell, by taking shares from them. Lenovo showed significant growth in EMEA though there is growing concern of the inventory build toward the second half of 2012.

Acer managed to increase shipments compared to a year ago, and the company was able to clear its inventory issues, and prepare for the growth. Acer has been one of the first vendors to release Ultrabooks, and it will most likely lower the Ultrabook price faster than other vendors. Acer has been also very actively promoting its media tablet products.

Dell has been in a process of transforming itself from a PC supplier to solution provider for professional markets. Although Dell’s focus was not to pursue the market share gain, Dell needs to maintain certain level of market share. Dell showed year on year shipment decline across all regions, but EMEA and Asia/Pacific were particularly challenging markets.

ASUS showed the strongest growth among the top 5 vendors worldwide, as its shipments increased 38.6 percent in the second quarter of 2012. ASUS’s strong growth came from EMEA and U.S. markets. ASUS did well at diversifying the product portfolio: starting with mini-notebook expansion, then quickly moving to the mid- to high-end notebook market.

In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 15.9 million units in the second quarter of 2012, a 5.7 percent decline from the same period last year. The slowdown in the U.S. market was largely attributed to weak consumer spending on PCs. This reflects a combination of consumers’ reduced interest in PCs, and vendors reduced willingness to sell PCs due to other products and services that consumers are interested. The major promotion of Ultrabooks could potentially change the market dynamics.

“Weakness in the U.S. public market affected the professional segment despite the high PC procurement season in the second quarter,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “Both government and education institutions are encountering tight budget situations. Shipments to the public sector are expected to be lower than normal seasonality.”

HP continued to lead the U.S. PC market, as it accounted for 25 percent of PC shipments in the second quarter of 2012. Among the top 5 vendors in the U.S. PC market, all but Apple experienced a decline in shipments (see Table 2).

Table 2: Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q12 (Units)
Gartner: Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q12 (Units)
Note: Data includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad.
Source: Gartner (July 2012)

MacDailyNews Take: That’s an interesting chart. Now let’s remove the Mac numbers that are propping up the PC shipment numbers. Doing so results in actual 2Q11 PC shipments of 15,043,986 and actual 2Q12 PC shipments of 13,997,088. That’s a decline of 1,046,898 units YOY, or 7%, not 5.7%.

From a regional perspective, EMEA, Asia/Pacific and Japan registered low single digit-growth while all Americas markets posted year-over-year shipment declines.

PC shipments in EMEA totaled 25.1 million units in the second quarter of 2012, a 1.9 percent increase from the same period last year. Western Europe saw very weak demand across all countries but especially Southern Europe. Consumer willingness to spend on PCs was furthered hindered by the growing eurozone economic crisis. Retailers again took a risk adverse approach but distributors may well have greater levels of inventory. This will hinder future growth of markets as Windows 8 and more Ultramobile notebooks arrive in the second half of 2012.

The Asia/Pacific PC market grew 2 percent, as shipments reached 31.8 million units. The weak U.S. and European economic situation, coupled with the slowing economy in China, affected the region’s market sentiments where people reacted by scaling back on spending due to the uncertainties. There was the tightening of budgets in the professional segment, as well as a lack in new government initiatives to stimulate IT purchasing activities. Consumers either spent on alternative devices or remained cautious on discretionary spending.

In Latin America, PC shipments in the second quarter of 2012 totaled 9.3 million units, a decline of 1.7 percent from the second quarter of last year. PC shipments in Japan grew 2 percent in the second quarter of 2012, as shipments surpassed 3.9 million units.

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 website at http://www.gartner.com/it/products/research/asset_129157_2395.jsp.

Source: Gartner, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: And, when is Gartner and IDC going to finally wake up and include “tablets?” Oh, right, doing so would completely destroy their antiquated world views.

The fact is: The world’s #1 personal computer maker is Apple Inc. iPad is not merely a “media tablet.”

Wake up, Gartner and IDC, you’re making yourselves look extremely silly, not to mention damaging your credibility.

MacDailyNews Note: The Gartner (and IDC) numbers are estimates. We’ll find out the real Mac unit sales figures from Apple on July 24th. Apple’s Mac has outgrown the Windows PC market for 25 straight quarters and counting.


  1. The beauty for Apple is that even if they stayed steady and didn’t grow, they have such good margins that they’d still be raking it in. Other companies almost have to grow to even look like they’re breaking even.

  2. The near future when Microsoft competes with Apple and is letting it all hang out, fight or flight, shooting with real ammunition or with blanks, will be interesting. I think the one real change will be that they can no longer count on 90% shares of anything in the future. Everyone is on to them, everyone else is out-innovating them, Steve Ballmer is an albatross around Microsoft’s increasing scrawny neck and the market far less forgiving and much more open/ And the current Emperor has no clothes, except a nice Uncle Fester cloak and light bulb.

  3. At this point it is prudent to not include tablet shipments in these numbers. We’re ware of tablet growth as a major factor in the decline of PC shipments. But tablets and PCs still have distinct differentiators in the market and should still be treated as such.

    1. But given the large numbers of tablets (iPads) sold, why does it not have its own chart?????? Oh yea, cause Apple would rule.

      We would see its an iPad market not a tablet market.

      Just a though.

    2. You could say that about notebooks vs desktops. You could say that about netbooks vs SMB servers.

      But they’re all right there in the one big chart. As should iPads and other tablet computers.

    3. Looking forward, the computer landscape has changed forever from desktop computing to desktop/mobile computing. Microsoft got caught at this juncture and we will have to see if Winfow 8 will bring it back into competition. If not, this company will start loosing its grip on the computer world real fast

    4. What are those distinct differentiators?

      Don’t say the mouse because the pad and trackball are in use and a finger on an iPad is quite effective.

      Don’t say physical keyboard because dictation and/or virtual keyboards have that covered.

      Don’t say multitasking because that is universal.

      Don’t say a file system because Macs don’t need one to operate smoothly.

      An iPad with the right Apps can do a hell of a lot more than a netbook and a cash register and both of those PCs are counted.

      The real reason iPads are not counted as PCs is because MS Windows would look vulnerable if it’s sales dropped below 80%. The flood gates would open and Gartner and IDC would lose a big chunk of MS cash.

  4. to be honest there were two reports that i came yesterday. Gartner claims that Apple share increased and IDC says that Mac sales fell. I come to MDN to read news about Apple and it is important for me to have access to positive as well as negative reports. Otherwise I am only getting one side of the story.

  5. Apple will be closing in on that fifth spot. However an interesting trend is developing that Lenovo, ACER and ASUS are taking market share from HP and Dell. For those guys it is all about competing on price and who can race to the bottom fastest. Problem is it is unsustainable and very soon someone else will beat you on price and take your share and profit away.

    Apple are in a far better position even if you consider computers alone. When you add in the success with the tablet and phone market it is just mind boggling.

  6. The minute Surface hits the market, they’ll all have to start counting ‘tablets’ in their numbers.

    That fact alone may make it the dumbest thing Microsoft has ever done.

  7. Although Mac sales have certainly grown, the greater point is that Microsoft sold more copies during the period than the current active installed base of Macintosh computers. It may not be ‘P.C.’ to say so, but it’s the truth.

    1. I think that is to be expected, considering how wide the gap has been. The point though, is that the gap is slowly closing, which is not something that could be said for many years.

  8. MDN seems to ignore that the slight dip in total PC sales has something to do with the fact that the Microsoft faithful are holding onto their wallets in anticipation of an autumn release of Win8 and Surfaces … thus the 4th quarter of 2012 will show PC shipments bouncing right back, the way they always do.

    If Apple doesn’t reveal some new hardware before Christmas, then it won’t be quite as merry this year in Cupertino. The Retina Macbook might be nice and all, but without significant software titles to drive the higher-resolution display, Apple’s newest gadget will have a rather slow deployment rate. And the rest of Apple’s Mac and iPod lineups remain long overdue for a refresh.

    1. Ah, yessss, Windows 8 will fix everything.

      And Retina MacBooks are still on 3 – 4 week backorder.

      New iMacs are coming and iPhone 5 too.

      The iPad mini will show up just in time to kick Windows 8 RT tablets off the playground and take their lunch money.

      And the iPad 4 will show up just in time to kick Windows 8 RT tablets off the playground and take their lunch money.

    2. @ Synth

      – doesn’t matter if Windows 8 fixes anything or not. Windows fans, which actually outnumber Mac fans by far, will buy it.

      – does a backorder of Retina Macbooks represent huge demand or supply constraint? Most likely the latter, though we all hope the former.

      – iMac and iPhone release dates can only be speculated. They can’t come a moment too soon.

      – iPad mini = fail. All 7″ touchscreen devices have failed.

      – iPad 4? aren’t you skipping 3? And again, see point #1. Lot of folks don’t know quality when it hits them over the head — MS Surface will indeed sell a lot of units simply because it is not “locked to the Apple ecosystem” or whatever hogwash they are selling.

      Hey, i’m a proponent of Apple, but you guys need to take off the rose colored lenses once in a while.

      1. Windows fans, what an oxymoron.

        Do you honestly think that more than 1% of Windows users, in their cubical, at work, are Windows fans?

        Do you honestly think that people, who can only afford a used PC or a new $300 net book, are Windows fans?

        I’ll give you 5% who are geeks and/or IT workers and 10% who are gamers and/or Microsoft employees. That’s 16% of the Windows users who are fans.

        Greater than 85% of Mac users are fans.

        You lose.

        1. @allthegeo:

          for your logic to make any sense, you would have to define what in your world constitutes winning.

          A Mac is a Porsche, not a Ford. Most people drive mundane boring cars like Fords. If you think Apple or Porsche has more fans than Ford, you would be wrong.

          …and since you’re happy to pull numbers out of your ass, how about finding this one in there: total annual $ spent on Windows software versus Apple software. Who gives a damn about a “fan” who doesn’t actually pay the cost of admission to the game?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.