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PC shipments fell 10% last year

DECLINE:Gartner said last year was the ‘worst’ drop in PC history, with manufacturers shipping far fewer units than in 2012. However, China’s Lenovo was the one exception

Bloomberg and CNA

PC shipments fell 10 percent last year, marking the worst-ever decline after lackluster holiday sales underscored how consumers and businesses are shunning machines for mobile devices, two research firms said.

Manufacturers shipped 315.97 million units, down from 351.07 million units in 2012 and making it the “worst decline in PC market history,” researcher Gartner Inc said in a statement on Thursday.

International Data Corp (IDC) also said shipments had a record decline.

US consumers omitted PCs from their holiday shopping lists while buyers in Asia opted for smartphones and tablets. More computing tasks are moving to Web sites and applications tailored for wireless gadgets, rather than software installed on laptops and desktops. The annual drop eclipsed the previous record decline of 3.9 percent in 2012, Gartner said.

“Consumer spending during the holidays did not come back to PCs as tablets were one of the hottest holiday items,” said Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner. “In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet.”

Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) of China emerged as the world’s largest PC supplier, shipping 53.27 million units last year, up 2.1 percent from a year earlier, with a market share that grew from 14.9 percent in 2012 to 16.9 percent last year.

Two US firms, Hewlett-Packard Co with a market share of 16.2 percent and Dell Inc with an 11.6 percent share, ranked second and third respectively, Gartner said.

HP’s shipments for last year fell by an annual 9.3 percent to 51.25 million units, while Dell shipped 36.79 million PCs last year, down 2.2 percent from the previous year.

Shipments by Taiwan’s Acer Inc (宏碁) and Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) dropped 28.1 percent and 17.7 percent respectively last year, Gartner said.

Last year, Acer shipped 25.69 million PCs, ranking as the world’s fourth-largest PC vendor, with a market share that fell to 8.1 from 10.2 percent in 2012.

Asustek was in fifth place last year, with shipments of 20.03 million units and a global market share of 6.3 percent, compared with 6.9 percent in 2012.

In the fourth quarter, global PC shipments dropped 6.9 percent year-on-year to 82.63 million units, marking the seventh consecutive quarterly decline, Gartner said.

IDC, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, reported a decline of 5.6 percent in the same period.

Lenovo maintained the No. 1 spot worldwide with 18.1 percent market share in the fourth quarter, helped by a 6.6 percent increase in shipments, according to Gartner. Hewlett-Packard Co was second with a 16.4 percent share as shipments declined 7.2 percent. Dell Inc was third with 11.8 percent share, Gartner said.

“We are extremely optimistic about the future of the [US]$200 billion-plus PC industry,” Lenovo chairman and chief executive officer Yang Yuanqing (楊元慶) said in a statement. “We continue to outperform the market while steadily improving profit and margin.”

Lenovo shipped 14 million PCs in the last quarter, it said.

Growth in the PC market has become dependent on consumers and businesses replacing existing machines, rather than wooing new buyers. Enterprise demand is being driven in part by Microsoft Corp’s plan to end support for its 13-year-old Windows XP operating system in April, compelling businesses to buy new PCs along with software upgrades.

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