The launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 did not have a significant impact on PC shipments in the fourth quarter.
That is according to latest findings from Gartner, who says some PC vendors offered somewhat lacklustre form factors in their Windows 8 offerings and missed the excitement of touch.
Hewlett Packard regained the top position in worldwide PC shipments during the period however, but the company’s shipments did not grow compared to a year ago.
Analysts believe HP most likely gave up a certain margin level to gain market shares but the company has been successful in managing large retail deals targeting Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch and holiday sales in selected regions.
Lenovo dropped to the No. 2 position in the list, but it experienced the best growth rate (8.2%) among the top five PC vendors worldwide.
Exceeding regional growth rates in North America, EMEA and Asia/Pacific, Lenovo fell lower than the industry average in Latin America and Japan. But in North America, the company performed well by expanding in the retail market and protecting professional market.
In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 17.5m units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 2.1% decline from the same period last year.
Due to the tight inventory control and preparation for the Windows 8 launch, Gartner says most PC vendors were able to ship Windows 8 PCs to the retail space.
However, PC sell-through was rather weak which leaves some level of inventory concerns for vendors in the consumer market.
“Consumer’s holiday spending went into other products and services, and U.S. holiday sales became less important for PC sales," Gartner says.
"For professionals, the fourth quarter is typically a good sales season because of last minutes PC purchases before the tax year-end. Our early research indicates that there was good growth in professional PC sales.
“The PC market continues to face many headwinds. The launch of Windows 8 had no impact on PC demand, especially as Ultramobile products were both limited in supply, as well as being priced too high.
“The holiday season mostly saw retailers clearing Windows 7 notebook inventory or driving volume of low-end notebooks.
"Furthermore, the increasing choice of tablets at decreasing price points no doubt became a favorite Christmas present ahead of PCs.”
“In the fourth quarter of 2012, mobile PC shipments decreased 11% while desktop PC shipments declined 6% year-on-year.
“However, all-in-one form factor models from Asus, Lenovo and HP look like a promising platform for the future.”
PC shipments in Asia/Pacific totaled 29.9m units during the period, representing a 1.8% decline from the fourth quarter of 2011.
Vendors struggled to offer compelling products to convince buyers to upgrade and attract new buyers as consumers' interest continues to be on smartphones and tablets.
The introduction of Windows 8 met with lukewarm response and availability was primarily on the higher-end models, which were priced beyond the mainstream price point for volume sales.
For the year, PC shipments were 352.7m units, a 3.5% decline from 2011.
Top PC vendors of 2012: