Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

2011 Was the Second-Worst Year for U.S. PC Sales in History, Except at Apple

Last year, for the first time since 2001, the U.S. market for personal computers shrank, according to separate research reports issued yesterday by the research firms Gartner and IDC. The year 2011 was, by IDC’s reckoning, the second-worst year in the PC industry’s history.

U.S. consumers and businesses bought 71.3 million PCs, representing a drop of nearly 5 percent over 2010, when they bought more than 75 million, IDC said. So much for the year.

And the fourth quarter, traditionally one of the industry’s strong points, wasn’t much help. Shipments of PCs in the fourth quarter declined by nearly 7 percent, according to IDC; Gartner said they fell by 6 percent. Hewlett-Packard saw its U.S. shipments drop by 25 percent in the IDC report; Dell by 5 percent; Acer by 14 percent; and Toshiba by 2 percent.

HP’s flirtation with spinning off its PC division last year hurt sales, as businesses and consumers lost confidence in the company. The main beneficiary of that appears to have been China’s Lenovo, the world’s No. 2 PC maker, which saw its shipments, on a global basis, surge by 37 percent, though it’s not much of a player in the U.S. market.

For the full year, HP saw its shipments fall by nearly 5 percent; Dell’s fell by more than 8 percent; and Acer’s fell 30 percent in the U.S.

So who grew? Apple. It saw its shipments grow by 18 percent in the quarter, according to IDC, and by 21 percent in the Gartner report. As of the end of the year, IDC said, Apple’s share of the U.S. market amounted to 10.7 percent, which is up from 8.8 percent a year ago.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work