Windows 8 Fails To Reboot Christmas PC Sales – Gartner


Disappointment for Steve Ballmer as touch-based Windows 8 PCs don’t take off yet

Windows 8 failed to reignite consumer interest in the PC over the Christmas season, leading to a 4.3 percent year-on-year decline in PC sales for the fourth quarter, Gartner said on Monday. The dismal showing confirmed findings by IDC released on Friday.

Shipments fell to 90.3 million units in the last quarter of 2012, down from 95 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, Gartner said, arguing that the decline is due as much to a shift in consumer habits toward tablets and smartphones as to the struggling economy.

Mobile shift

Some industry observers had predicted that individuals would carry on buying PCs to go along with their tablets and smartphones, but Gartner said its figures suggest that individuals are shifting to mobile devices for most consumption, while retaining a shared PC that can be used by groups such as families for creative or administrative tasks.

“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalising’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” stated Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

Microsoft’s recently introduced Windows 8 uses a new interface focused on tablet-style touch interaction, and manufacturers have begun releasing PCs and laptops that integrate these features.

However, Gartner specifically noted that “Windows 8 did not have a significant impact on PC shipments in the fourth quarter”, calling the available Windows 8-based devices “lacklustre”.

HP regains lead

HP retook the lead spot from Chinese manufacturer Lenovo for the quarter, in part due to HP’s strength in the consumer market, but HP’s sales of 14.6 million units were down 0.5 percent year-on-year.

Lenovo, on the other hand, recorded the strongest growth of the top PC makers, with an 8.2 percent rise in shipments from the same quarter a year earlier for shipments of nearly 14 million PCs.

Dell followed in third place, but its sales plummeted 21 percent year-on-year to 9.2 million units, while Acer followed in fourth position with a drop of 11 percent to 8.6 million units.

Gartner noted that the decline in the US was less severe than elsewhere, dropping only 2.1 percent.

The data includes desktop PCs and mobile PCs such as laptops and mini-notebooks, but not tablets such as the iPad.

Christmas slump

Gartner’s figures are similar to those released by IDC on Friday, showing worldwide PC sales of 89.8 million units for the quarter, down 6.4 percent year-on-year. IDC had predicted a 4.4 percent decline.

According to IDC’s figures, 2012 was the first time in more t han five years that the PC market showed a year-on-year decline during the Christmas season.

The analyst criticised PC vendors for promoting Windows 8’s touch features at the expense of “other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience”.

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