HP regains top spot as PC shipments slump

PC shipment estimates for the past quarter are in, and they're not all that encouraging. According to the folks at Gartner, shipments slipped from 95.02 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 90.37 million in fourth quarter of 2012—a 4.9% decline.

Gartner attributes the shipment shrinkage to tablets. Apparently, the problem isn't that folks are tossing out their PCs and replacing them with tablets, but that they prefer to buy new tablets rather than to upgrade old PCs. Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa elaborates:

Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC. There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm. Therefore, we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet.

Windows 8 did little to buck the trend despite all its touch-capable pizzazz. Gartner says the new operating system "did not have a significant impact" on last quarter's shipments.

The research firm has also compiled some market share data. It looks like HP regained the top spot internationally in Q4 after falling behind Lenovo in Q3. Lenovo returned to second place, with Dell, Acer, and Asus in the third, fourth, and fifth spots, respectively. Lenovo and Asus were the only ones to see shipments rise compared to the previous year, by the way. Dell and Acer both suffered double-digit declines.

In the U.S., the top three spots were still occupied by HP, Dell, and Apple, in that order, with Lenovo and Acer in hot pursuit. HP saw the biggest jump in shipments domestically (12.6%) followed by Lenovo (9.7%) and Apple (5.4%). Meanwhile, Dell and Acer again saw their shipments fall by double-digit amounts—16.5% and 21.6%, respectively. Check out Gartner's report for the full numbers.

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