Lenovo, HP spar over PC supremacy
Lenovo has closed the gap and may be the largest computer manufacturer. A bigger issue is whether either company can come up with a product to revive flagging PC sales.
Lenovo shipped 13.7 million PCs during the quarter (up nearly 10% from a year ago) to nab a 15.7% market share, Gartner said, while HP shipped 13.6 million units for a 15.5% share.
Hewlett-Packard, which had held the pole position for six years running, swiftly put out a statement citing another study, from IDC Worldwide, that put itself on top.
In the IDC report, HP's third-quarter market share was 15.9%, which represented a 16.4% drop from a year ago. Lenovo, meanwhile, improved 10.2% from last year to 15.7%. Clearly, the gap between the two has all but vanished.
Of course, at this juncture, being the global leader in PC sales is pretty much equivalent to being the most intelligent Kardashian sister, what with PC sales shrinking by the minute. A total of 87.5 million PCs were sold in the third quarter, which represented a sharp 8.3% decline in sales from the same quarter a year ago, according to Gartner (IDC numbers suggested a 8.6% fall).
"PCs are going through a severe slump," Jay Chou, senior research analyst with Worldwide PC Tracker, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "A weak global economy, as well as questions about PC market saturation and delayed replacement cycles are certainly a factor, but the hard question of what is the 'it' product for PCs remain unanswered.”
Consumers have also increasingly eschewed PCs for mobile devices such as tablet computers. More than 100 million tablets will be sold in 2012, Gartner projects. That would represent a massive 98% sales increase from 2011.
While mobile is clearly the future of computing, all is not lost for PC vendors, at least not in the short term. Experts say that the third quarter PC sales dip can be attributed to consumers and businesses holding out for the new Microsoft (MSFT) Windows 8 operating system. (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)
"We expected a weak PC market in the lead-up to Windows 8 release in the fourth quarter, noted IDC research director David Daoud. "While the industry has been focused on shaving excess inventory and preparing to launch a new generation of products, consumers have been looking at alternative devices like tablets. In addition, businesses have slowed their refresh cycle as they remain concerned about the broad economic outlook amid a busy political season.
With the marginal difference in numbers logged by Lenovo and HP in the third quarter, Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said fourth-quarter results will reveal more decisively whether Lenovo can truly overtake HP in the PC market.
"Lenovo has a good business model for the PC business, which fits very well in the current environment of low margins and high volumes, Kitagawa told the E-Commerce Times. "The challenge for HP and Dell (DELL) is to have a good balance between profitability and share gain. You cannot pursue both. This is the major difference between HP, Dell and Lenovo; that Lenovo can live with low margins, but HP and Dell cannot."
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