Holiday PC Shipments Mark First Decline Since 2001

Personal-computer shipments fell 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter -- the first holiday-period slump since 2001 -- as consumers and retailers shifted to tablets and smartphones, researcher IDC said.

Worldwide PC shipments declined 3.2 percent for all of 2012, dragged down by lackluster holiday season demand, according to Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC. In 2011, PC shipments rose 1.7 percent.

While the shopping season marked the release of a major overhaul to Microsoft Corp.’s flagship Windows operating system, that didn’t boost demand for PCs, IDC said yesterday in a statement. Windows 8 is designed to be used on touch-screen devices and tablets, aiming to help PC makers compete with Apple Inc.’s iPad as well as smartphones that are increasingly capable of tasks once confined to PCs.

“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,” said Jay Chou, an analyst at IDC, referring to Windows 8.

IDC’s report has Hewlett-Packard Co. continuing to hold the top spot in shipments worldwide for the fourth quarter and the year. Hewlett-Packard has 17 percent of worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter, IDC said, followed by Lenovo Group Ltd. with 16 percent and Dell Inc. with 11 percent. Dell’s shipments fell 21 percent in the quarter.

Competing market researcher Gartner Inc. -- which plans to report its 2012 PC data on Jan. 16 -- had Lenovo surpassing Hewlett-Packard as the top PC supplier in the third quarter.

IDC’s study includes so-called workstations, the more powerful desktop devices used for such tasks as engineering, architecture and video-game development.

In the U.S., Hewlett-Packard and Dell were followed by Apple, which had 11 percent of the market for the fourth quarter and the year. Sales of its Mac computers fell less than 1 percent in the quarter, IDC said.

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