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According to research firm Gartner, global PC sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the “longest duration of decline” in history.

Worldwide personal computer shipments totaled 76 million units in the second quarter, a 10.9% drop from a year earlier,

PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets.

Gartner said the introduction of low-cost tablets had further hurt PC sales, especially in emerging economies.

“In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement.

Global PC sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the longest duration of decline in history

Global PC sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the longest duration of decline in history

Separate data released by research firm IDC also showed an 11.4% decline in global PC shipments during the period, from a year earlier.

IDC, which uses a slightly different method to calculate the data, said that shipments totaled 75.6 million units in the second quarter.

However, it said that the numbers were better than it had expected and were likely to improve in the coming months.

“With second quarter growth so close to forecast, we are still looking for some improvement in growth during the second half of the year,” said Jay Chou, a senior analyst at IDC Worldwide PC Tracker.

But he warned that the sector was facing risks and much work needed to be done to turn around things.

“Slower growth in Europe and China reflect the risks, while the improved US outlook reflects potential improvement. Still, the weakness in emerging markets is a threat to a core long-term growth area,” Jay Chou said.

“In addition, while efforts by the PC ecosystem to bring down price points and embrace touch computing should make PCs more attractive, a lot still needs to be done in launching attractive products and addressing competition from devices like tablets.”


Global sales of mobile phones went into reverse in 2012 compared with the previous year, according to a report from research company Gartner.

The report said 1.75 billion handsets had been bought, marking a 1.7% decline.

Analysts at the firm suggested “tough economic conditions” had been partly responsible for the drop.

It follows official data from Spain indicating its number of mobile telephone and datacard subscriptions fell by 5% over the same period.

A report by the Spanish regulator CMT said there were nearly 2.8 million fewer such contracts at the end of the year than at the beginning, with Telefonica’s Movistar unit and Vodafone bearing the brunt of losses in December.

Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 1.3% in 2012, according to its central bank.

Gartner’s data suggests weakening demand for feature phones – lower-end devices with limited functionality – led to the drop. It said that in the final three months of the year, 264.4 million such devices had been sold – 19.3% fewer than over the same period in 2011.

Although smartphones had seen a 38.3% year-on-year gain over the fourth quarter, they had still remained in the minority with 207.7 million units sold, the study said.

Global sales of mobile phones went into reverse in 2012 compared with the previous year

Global sales of mobile phones went into reverse in 2012 compared with the previous year

Gartner added that Apple and Samsung had dominated the smartphone market, with a combined 52% share in the October-to-December quarter.

“There is no manufacturer that can firmly lay claim to the number three spot,” said the company’s principal research analyst Anshul Gupta.

“Their direct competitors, including those with comparable products, struggle to achieve the same brand appreciation among consumers.”

Anshul Gupta added that the overall fall in sales marked the first time the market had contracted since 2009.

Gartner’s data also indicated that in the fourth quarter, Android had powered 69.7% of all smartphones sold, while iOS had accounted for 20.9% of devices.

For the year, that marked a gain in share for Google’s operating system, but a decline for Apple’s – although in terms of units sold, both firms made gains.

Workspace (EXPLORED)
Lenovo replaces HP as the world’s top PC makerTheis Kofoed Hjorth / Foter

Lenovo has replaced Hewlett-Packard as the world’s top PC maker, according to preliminary figures released by research firm Gartner.

Gartner said Chinese PC maker Lenovo shipped 13.8 million units in the third quarter, compared with HP’s 13.55 million.

It said Lenovo’s “aggressive” price cuts had helped it gain substantial market share.

However, research firm IDC’s data put HP at the top, though it showed the gap between the two was closing.

According to IDC, HP shipped 13.9 million units, giving it a 15.9% share of the global market, compared with Lenovo which enjoyed a 15.7% share with 13.8 million units.

Analysts said Lenovo has been among the best performing PC makers in recent times and it was likely to gain further market share.

“Just the momentum that Lenovo has had, makes it inevitable that it will be the world’s number one PC maker across all charts,” said Andrew Milroy of Frost & Sullivan.

According to Gartner, Lenovo was the only PC maker, among the world’s top five, that increased its shipments to the US during the third quarter.

Both Gartner and IDC’s figures showed that global PC shipments fell more than 8% during the quarter, from the same period last year.

Demand for personal computers has been hurt by a slowing global economy as well as the growing popularity of tablet PCs such as Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy range.

Analysts said that consumers held back on purchases during the period in anticipation of the launch of new products as well as operating systems, including Microsoft Windows 8.

“PCs are going through a severe slump,” said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC’s Worldwide PC Tracker.

“The industry had already weathered a rough second quarter, and now the third quarter was even worse.”

He added that the industry was also struggling to find a product that may help it turn around its fortunes.

“The hard question of what is the <<it>> product for PCs remains unanswered. While ultrabook prices have come down a little, there are still some significant challenges that will greet Windows 8 in the coming quarter.”