INDUSTRY WATCHER Gartner has reported that 92.2 million PCs were shipped in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 1.4 per cent decline, citing lower consumer demand.
Gartner's figures follow Microsoft's prediction that PC shipments will come in lower than expected in the last quarter of 2011. While Microsoft laid the blame on hard drive shortages following the floods in Thailand, Gartner said the Thai floods had little effect, but that consumer PC demand and not component supply was the limiting factor.
Although HP remained the top PC maker for yet another quarter, the firm's 16 per cent market share was 16.2 per cent lower than in the previous quarter. Lenovo further cemented its second place spot by closing the gap on HP, with 14 per cent of the market, and Dell remained in third place with 12.6 per cent market share.
For all of Intel's ultrabook efforts, Gartner wasn't impressed. Mikako Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner said, "Ultrabooks didn't seem to draw consumers' attention. Consumers had very little understanding and awareness of ultrabooks, and only a small group of consumers was willing to pay the price premium for such models."
Intel's championing of ultrabook laptops is one last attempt to deliver the all-day usability that PC makers have been promising for years. Initial attempts have disappointed, however a slew of new ultrabooks were shown off at CES that should help the thin-and-light laptops make a larger impression in 2012.
Gartner claimed that the hard drive shortages will play a greater role in constraining PC shipments in the first half of 2012. Retail prices of hard drives have started to come down, but still remain considerably higher than before the Thai floods.
PC sales have come under increasing pressure from smartphones and tablets. Although Gartner expects the PC business to grow in 2012, it said PC shipments are likely to be stunted by hard drive shortages and a growing number of alternative computing devices. µ