Gartner Report: PC Shipments Down 5% in Fourth Quarter 2012

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Anthony Myers avatar

Microsoft launched Windows 8 in the run up to the holiday season in 2012, but a new Gartner report found buyers are increasingly shifting to tablets.

It's not that buyers were particularly shying away from Windows 8, but if anyone thought the launch may have helped push PC shipments, the report says otherwise.

Tablets Go Mainstream

Around 2009, iPhone and Android sales started going mainstream. In the past four years, smartphone adoption has been phenomenal at the very least. Now, a similar trend is happening with tablets.

The iPad debuted in 2010, and three years later, with a wide variety of tablet vendors to be found, tablets are making a push into the mainstream like their smartphone predecessors.

Furthermore, partly because of their size, tablets are beginning to usurp the need for a PC in many buyers' minds. PC shipments went down 5% in the fourth quarter of 2012 and it's just the latest signal tablets are becoming hugely popular.

PC sales numbers are a bit harder to come by, so analysts like Gartner often rely on these shipment numbers instead. It doesn't tell us how many PCs were sold, but it does show us the relative demand. Additionally, Gartner offered these numbers as a preliminary release to a more comprehensive report due out soon.

Learning Opportunities

In the US, HP and Lenovo led the way in increased PC shipments in the fourth quarter in 2012 compared to 2011. Lenovo was also the worldwide leader in this category, with Asus coming in second. HP shipments fell around the world, and they shipped less overall in 2012 than in 2011.


Preliminary Q4 shipment estimates of PCs in the US.

Application Heavy PCs Not Victimized

Vendors offering relatively lightweight PCs might be most susceptible to the tablet takeover. Tablets are being used to consume media, and that means many people might opt to buy their PCs for increased application power over other uses. That doesn't mean people will be buying both a tablet and a PC, however. 

"We hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet," Mikako Kitagawa, Gartner principal analyst, said in her report.

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