Despite of very healthy start of 2011, shipments of personal computers started to slowdown in the second half of the year. Slow holiday season and further decreases of sales in the fourth quarter of 2011 further impacted the results per annum. All-in-all, according to Gartner, the PC market grew by just 0.5% in 2011.
PC Market Reaches 352.8 Million Units per Year
For the year 2011, worldwide PC shipments totaled 352.8 million units in 2011, a 0.5% increase from 2010.
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, HP retained leadership, 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.
PC Shipments in Q4 Disappoint
After two quarters of positive growth, worldwide PC shipments totaled 92.2 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 1.4% decline from the fourth quarter of 2010, according to preliminary results by Gartner. These figures were in line with Gartner’s earlier forecast of a 1% decline for the fourth quarter of 2011.
“Continuously low consumer PC demand resulted in weak holiday PC shipments. 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,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.
HP retained its No. 1 position in the fourth quarter of 2011, despite a shipment decline of 16.2% year over year. While the company’s new chief executive, Meg Whitman, cleared up some confusion surrounding its PC business, its Q4 2011 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.
Lenovo experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors, as its PC shipments grew 23% 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% 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% of Asus mobile PCs shipments were regular notebooks in the fourth quarter of 2011.
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 in the first half of 2012, and potentially continue throughout 2012.
“Ultrabooks were quietly introduced into the market during the Q4 2011 holiday season. But ultrabooks didn’t seem to draw consumers’ attention,” said Ms. Kitagawa.
U.S. Shipments Decline, EMEA Sales Drop Sharply, Asia and Latin America Continues to Grow
In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 17.9 million units, a 5.9% decline compared with the same quarter last year. 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% year-over-year, but its shipment volume was not enough to squeeze into the top five ranking (it was in the sixth position).
PC shipments in EMEA totaled 28.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 9.6% 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% 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% increase from the fourth quarter of 2010. The market performance was below Gartner’s anticipated growth of 10.6%. The preliminary findings show weaker shipment growth in China, India and Thailand.
The PC market in Latin America grew 11.2% 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% in the fourth quarter of 2011, as shipments totaled 3.9 million units. This was better than Gartner’s earlier projection of an 8% decline. The professional market showed a high double-digit decline, while the consumer market saw mid-single-digit growth.