PC Shipments Slide Worldwide

Worldwide shipments of personal computers reported an unusual decline. The industry has been upset by low demand in the U.S. and Europe in addition to a lack of hard-disk drives that restricted manufacturers. According to industry researcher Gartner Inc. (NYSE:IT), shipments declined 1.4 percent to 92.2 million units in the fourth quarter. Its prior projection was a 1 percent decline. Analyst group, International Data Corp., said the decline was only 0.2 percent to 92.7 million. Its earlier prediction was a 0.6 percent drop.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ) was still the top seller by volume, however, Lenovo Group Ltd. topped market share, making it the second-largest PC maker. “We are winning the market not just because of the low price,” said Yang Yuanqing, chief executive of Lenovo. “We have fantastic products.”

The reports from Gartner and IDC accentuate recent concerns that the economic decline in Europe and elsewhere would hurt sales. PC makers are also competing with the popularity of tablets along with the shortage of hard-disk drives, a major component that became scarce after floods in Thailand caused some factories to stop operations. “While economic uncertainty in Western Europe had an effect on consumer PC shipments, expectations of a healthier economic outlook in North America could not stimulate consumer PC demand in that region,” Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said.

PC shipments in the U.S. dropped, too. IDC said the country’s shipment declined 5 percent, which is the second-worst decline in the country’s history. “In the United States, market saturation and the economic environment continue to weigh considerably on consumer demand,” said David Daoud, research director for personal computing at IDC. However, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) did not decline and was the only seller in the country’s top five to register year-over-year growth. Apple’s PC shipments in the U.S. grew 20 percent by Gartner’s tally and 18% according to IDC.

Last month, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) said its fourth-quarter revenue would drop $1 billion short of its earlier estimates due to hard-disk drive shortages.  Chipmakers Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ:TXN) and Altera Corp. (NASDAQ:ALTR) also cut performance expectations due to weaker demand under economic concerns.