Lenovo Becomes World's Largest Maker of PCs amid Market Decline

PC Market Struggles Ahead of Windows 8 Launch

by Anton Shilov
10/12/2012 | 03:42 PM

The market of personal computers declined by whopping 8.3% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2012 and totaled 87.5 million units. But while nearly all PC suppliers faced declines of sales, there are a number, who continue to prosper. In fact, amid huge market collapse, Lenovo managed to become the world's largest maker of PCs for the first time ever, according to Gartner.

As Professionals Keep Buying PCs, Consumers Wait for Windows 8


"A continuing slowdown in consumer PC shipments played a big part in the overall PC market decline. The third quarter was also a transitional quarter before Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system release, so shipments were less vigorous as vendors and their channel partners liquidated inventory," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

According to the market research company, retailers were conservative in placing orders as they responded to weak back-to-school sales. By the end of September, retailers were focused on clearing out inventory in advance of the Windows 8 launch later this month. But on the other hand, on the professional side, there was minimum impact from Windows 8 in the quarter because the professional market will not adopt Windows 8 PCs immediately after the release.

Lenovo - No. 1 in the World as Market Down 8.3%

Lenovo took the No. 1 position in worldwide PC shipments for the first time in the company's history, as its share increased to 15.7%, while HP's global PC share was at 15.5%. In addition to acquiring other vendors, Lenovo has also taken an aggressive position on pricing, especially in the professional market. As a result, Lenovo has achieved significant market share gains over the last two years, exceeding regional average growth rates across all regions.

Although it finished the quarter very close to Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard has given up the top PC vendor position for the first time since the third quarter of 2006. HP is currently restructuring its device business, including PCs, tablets and printers. HP's main concern is achieving a good balance between market share gain and margin protection.

Dell was the No. 3 vendor in PC shipments worldwide in the third quarter of 2012. While Dell suffered a steeper shipment decline than the worldwide average, it was less impacted by the upcoming release of Windows 8 because of its strong focus in the professional market. Dell continues to gradually transform itself from a PC/device supplier to a solution provider.

HP Maintains Top Spot in the U.S. as Market Drops by 13.8%

In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 15.3 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 13.8% decline compared with the same period last year.

"The third quarter has historically been driven by back-to-school sales, but U.S. PC shipments did not increase, not even sequentially, from the second quarter of 2012. Channels were conservative in placing orders. Professional PC shipments in the U.S. began slowing in the second quarter of this year, and they continued the trend in the third quarter. The results indicate that the replacement peak may have passed in the professional sector," said Ms. Kitagawa.

Four of the top 5 vendors in the U.S. market experienced shipment declines. HP maintained the No. 1 position in the U.S. market despite a shipment decline of 19.3%. Lenovo was the only vendor among the top 5 to increase shipments. Both Acer and Toshiba shipments declined significantly due to the tough environment in the consumer market. Apple expected to have a PC shipment decline due to softness in the public market, but the company also faced a slowdown in the consumer market.

HP Still on Top in EMEA, Despite of 8.7% Market Tumble

PC shipments in Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) totaled 25.8 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a decline of 8.7% from the same quarter last year.

"After two consecutive quarters of growth, this quarter saw the worst decline in EMEA PC shipments over the past four years. The lack of appeal and innovation in PCs, combined with a challenging economic environment, led the consumer spend to move to other devices," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

In addition, any upturn from ultramobiles failed to materialize, because they are not competitively priced, and future products have been delayed until the fourth quarter of 2012 to align with Windows 8.

Western Europe saw very weak shipments across all countries, as retailers substantially reduced Windows 7 inventory in anticipation of the arrival of Windows 8 products later this month.

Although HP lost market share in the third quarter of 2012, it retained the No. 1 position in the EMEA region. Lenovo achieved the best performance of the quarter with double-digit growth. Lenovo had a very strong performance in the central Eastern European region which was against the general trend and, as a result, moved to the No. 3 position in EMEA.

Asia/Pacific PC Shipments Collapse by 5.6%

In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments reached 31.3 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 5.6% decline from the third quarter of 2011. Weak demand was brought about as potential buyers chose to reign in or delay their purchases. China's slowing economy was more acutely felt in the region in the third quarter, creating an even more conservative approach to spending. Although there were government PC initiatives in India and China to drive PC sales, they failed to offset the general market weakness.

Although Asus was one of the first vendors to launch an ultramobile product this move was not sufficient for it to retain its No. 3 position in the third quarter of 2012; it moved down to fourth place as its mini-notebook volumes declined. Dell dropped to fifth place as a result of its dependence on Western Europe, which led to a single-digit decline in the third quarter of 2012.

Latin American PC Market Down 6.2%

Preliminary results show PC shipments in Latin America surpassed 9.7 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 6.2% decline from the same period last year. Mobile PC shipments were flat, and desk-based PC shipments declined 14.3%. Brazilian businesses and schools may postpone their IT purchasing due to the expected "Brasil Maior" tax incentives that were announced late in the quarter. The tax incentives will begin in 2013, and this is when Gartner expects IT investments to drive PC shipments into the professional segment.

Japanese PC Sales Decline by 5.4%

In Japan, PC shipments totaled 3.7 million units in the third quarter, a 5.4% decline from the third quarter of 2011. The professional segment grew slightly higher than expected, but the market was impacted by the consumer segment. Most of the major vendors did not introduce new models of mainstream products in September due to the preparation for Windows 8.