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Gartner: Global PC Shipments Up 1.9% in 1Q12

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 89 million units in the first quarter of 2012, a 1.9 percent increase from the first quarter of 2011, when shipments reached 87.3 million units, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. These results exceed Gartner's earlier projections of a 1.2 percent decline for the quarter.

"The results were mixed depending on the region, as we saw the EMEA region perform better than expected with PC shipments growing 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012, while Asia/Pacific performed below expectations, in part because of slow growth in India and China," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "While the PC industry has high expectations for strong growth in the emerging markets, the slowdown of these countries in this quarter provides a cautionary notice to vendors that the future growth for the PC industry cannot heavily depend on the emerging markets even though PC penetration in these regions is low."

"In general, the hard-disk drive (HDD) supply shortage had a limited impact on PC supply during 1Q12. There was a moderate impact on selected markets, such as low-end consumer notebooks and the white-box market in selected regions. Still, low PC demand was able to mask the tight HDD supply overall."

Although PC vendors typically experience low consumer PC sales in the first quarter, Gartner's preliminary results reveal worse-than-normal consumer PC shipment growth. The weak consumer PC demand is in part because of intensified competition for consumers' budgets. Device vendors that focus on a limited product line will get only a small portion of the consumer wallet. Companies such as Apple can be clear winners because of comprehensive product/service offerings, which gain a large part of consumers' spending.

HP increased its share as the global market leader, as it accounted for 17.2 percent of worldwide PC shipments in the first quarter of 2012 (see Table 2). HP was able to secure HDD inventory, unlike 4Q11 when it was faced with a shortage issue. HP's growth also indicates that internal management issues were resolved, and analysts said it appears HP was able to restore some of the business it lost as a result of those issues.