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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lenovo Is Top Supplier as Global PC Sales Fall

Move over, Hewlett-Packard. You've just lost pride of place in an increasingly dubious tech category.

International Data Corporation and Gartner, both industry analyst firms, just released their statistics on worldwide personal computer shipments for the second quarter, and Lenovo was the top supplier, with H.P. second and Dell a somewhat distant third.

No one looked good here, though. In Gartner's report, total PC shipments worldwide were 76 million, down 10.9 percent. I.D.C. put the number at 75.6 million, down 11.4 percent. Every one of the five major companies followed by the two research firms (Acer and Asus were the other two) had sales declines worldwide, compared with a year earlier.

Gartner analysts described the five consecutive quarters of falling shipments as the longest decline in the history of PCs.

H.P. was able to hold its own in the United States, its home market. According to I.D.C., the company shipped four million PCs in the quarter, a drop of 4.1 percent from a year earlier. Dell had a 5.8 percent sales increase, to 3.8 million units. Apple's Mac computers were third, with 1.8 million units sold, a drop of 0.5 percent. Lenovo had a sales increase of 19.6 percent, to 1.5 million units, I.D.C. said. The Gartner numbers were roughly similar, though Gartner recorded a sharper sales drop for Apple.

Much of the problem is that the market is maturing, said Jay Chou, an analyst at I.D.C. “In America and Europe, all homes have computers, even multiple computers,” he said. “The new purchases are tablets and smartphones.” Lenovo did better over all, removing H.P. from I.D.C.'s top spot for the first time since the end of 2006, he said, “because of a shift to emerging markets. Lenovo is based in China, so they have a head start there. They also have been aggressive about building sales channels to new markets while they protect their home turf.” Gartner noted that across the Asia/Pacific region, except for India, PCs showed weakness.

Another difficulty is that the machines these companies make are now too good. “PCs last longer. They have bigger hard drives. And they have a processing capacity that most people never fully use,” Mr. Chou said. That makes it harder to sell replacement machines. “It's a tough business for everybody. We don't expect prices to go up soon.”