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PC shipments slow as tablet and smartphone sales boom

Worldwide PC shipments declined by 0.1 percent during the second quarter, according to research firms Gartner and IDC

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Tablets and smartphones continued to eat away at worldwide PC shipments, which remained flat during the second quarter, according to research released by Gartner on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Lenovo inched closer to taking the top spot in PC shipments from Hewlett-Packard, which barely held on to the title of world's largest PC maker. Lenovo has been growing through acquisitions and aggressive pricing, Gartner said.

Worldwide PC shipments for all vendors totaled 87.5 million units, a decline of 0.1 percent compared to the same quarter last year, Gartner said.

Consumers are spending less on PCs and more on smartphones and tablets, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in a statement. The trend is more pronounced in developed countries where the PC market is highly saturated, he said.

Research firm IDC on Wednesday also reported a year-over-year decline of 0.1 percent in worldwide PC shipments, a turnaround from its forecast in May of 2.1 percent growth.

A slowing economy in China also hurt PC shipments, the research firms said.

PC shipments in the U.S. declined by 5.7 percent year over year, and shipments in Latin America declined by 1.7 percent, Gartner said. Factoring in Western Europe, overall shipments in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) grew by 1.9 percent. Shipments in Asia-Pacific grew by 2 percent, and shipments in Japan also grew by 2 percent.

The slowdown has hurt chip makers as well as PC makers. Advanced Micro Devices reduced its revenue expectations earlier this week on poor consumer spending and weak sales in China and Europe. The company said its OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) business underperformed, indicating that PC makers bought fewer chips than expected.

Intel is making a push to revitalise PC shipments with ultrabooks, a category of thin and light laptops that became available starting in late 2011. Intel has poured millions into developing and promoting ultrabooks, but so far they have failed to reignite laptop shipments, Kitagawa said. Ultrabooks are at an early stage and a new batch based on Intel's third-generation Core processors are slowly becoming available.

But the second-quarter slowdown does not bode well for ultrabooks, nor Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 OS, due later this year, Gartner said.

HP shipped 13 million PCs in the quarter, a drop of 12.1 percent, giving it a 14.9 percent market share. Second-place Lenovo grew its shipments by 14.9 percent to 12.8 million units, giving the Chinese PC maker a 14.7 percent market share.

Acer took the third spot with 11 percent market share and shipments of 9.6 million units, up 3.6 percent. Dell's shipments fell by 11.5 percent, putting it in fourth place ahead of Asus.



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