Windows 8 Does Nothing To Help Drive PC Sales
January 14, 2013

PC Sales Continue Their Gradual Decline

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

The latest numbers from Gartner confirm that we have already entered into the Post-PC world, preferring smartphones and tablets over desktops and laptops.

Despite the year-long ramp up to Microsoft´s new operating system, sales of Windows 8 enabled desktops and laptops were slow this past holiday season. Sales of these machines were down nearly 5% over the same quarter in 2011, a number which has led analysts to believe could point to trouble in the PC market rather than trouble with the economy. According to Gartner, worldwide shipments of PCs slipped to 90.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner, says she believes tablets are cannibalizing PC sales, but not in the way many think.

“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ℠cannibalizing´ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” said Kitagawa in the Gartner report.

“Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC.” Kitagawa believes this tablet trend will continue, with users holding on to both until their PCs become old and obsolete.

Many analysts and industry watchers had expected the Windows 8 hybrid approach to desktop computing would help bolster PC sales. These numbers could deflate their hopes.

Windows 8 was expected to be the operating system to marry the two forms of computing together, making it easy to use on both tablets and PCs. Yet, as the release of the new OS got closer, many began to complain about a steep learning curve and a confusing user interface, possibly dampening excitement for Windows 8.

According to the Gartner report, Hewlett-Packard has once again become the top PC maker, outing China´s Lenovo Group during the fourth quarter. Kitagawa says HP´s strong consumer sales helped push them to the top, noting that the corporate sector is not a strong player during the holiday season. Though HP ended up on top, the company did not ship more units than they had last quarter. Lenovo, on the other hand, did see an improvement in shipments, despite their slipping to fourth place. According to Gartner, Lenovo was able to ship 8.2% more units in 4Q12 than 4Q11. Dell landed in third place, shipping just over 9 million units, earning them 10.2% of the market share in the 2012 fourth quarter. Dell also slipped from last year where they had earned 12.2% market share.

Apple, who is clearly leading the tablet revolution, also had a strong 4Q12 where desktop and tablet sales are concerned. Coming in at number 3, Apple saw a modest 5.4% growth year over year, selling 2.1 million “PCs” last quarter. This number has earned them a 12.3% share of the market, nearly 1% higher than the previous year.

“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,” said Kitagawa.