PC shipments slump in 2011 fourth quarter

PC shipments worldwide experienced a 1.4 percent drop in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to Gartner data.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
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PC shipments came in 1.4 percent lower in the fourth quarter of 2011 than in 2010 with a total of 92.2 million PC shipments worldwide, Gartner announced today.

The research company said that even though PC market growth is healthy, the fourth quarter had unusually weak holiday demand.

"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," said Gartner principal analyst Gartner Mikako Kitagawa in a statement. "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."

Just yesterday, Microsoft predicted statistics would show lower PC sales in the fourth quarter because of flooding in Thailand. However, Gartner analysts say that Hard-disk drive shortages sparked by the floods had little impact on fourth quarter PC shipments and prices.

Gartner analysts warned, though, that the flooding could cause a major shortage in the first half of 2012 and potentially continue throughout the year. Research company IHS-iSuppli echoed that forecast, predicted a 3.8 million PC shipment shortfall.

Gartner (January 2012)

In 2011's fourth quarter, HP maintained its spot as the highest PC shipper but was hard hit by the decline and experienced a 16.2 percent drop from the rest of the year. Lenovo came in second and had the strongest growth among the top five vendors with a 23 percent rise in shipments. Dell also had a good quarter with shipment growth in most regions.

While PC shipments were up in Asia and Latin America, the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan had a significant decrease in shipments. Gartner analysts say that the decline in shipments to the U.S. was because of consumer attention on other electronics, such as smartphones, media tablets, and all-in-one desktop PCs during the holiday shopping season.

Despite the bleak results from the fourth quarter, Gartner analysts point to overall market growth for PC shipments in 2011--they say that 352.8 million PCs were shipped worldwide, an increase of 0.5 percent from 2010.