Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Lenovo Is Once Again King of Shrinking PC Market

China’s Lenovo has, for the second time in recent memory, clobbered Hewlett-Packard for the title of world’s leading PC vendor, according to the market research firms Gartner and IDC, which both released their latest sales data today.

The last time this happened — in October of 2012 — the title was disputed. Gartner gave the lead to Lenovo while IDC gave the title to HP by a whisker. This time they both agree.

So here’s the rundown: Gartner shows Lenovo selling slightly less than 12.7 million PCs, just a few hundred thousand more than HP at 12.4 million, giving them both a share of about 16 percent and change, meaning they divided up about a third of the total of 76 million between them during the quarter. HP saw its shipments fall by almost five percent versus the year-ago quarter. Lenovo’s shipments declined fractionally.

For its part, Dell was in third place globally, shipping slightly fewer than 9 million, down about four percent. Acer and Asus were fourth and fifth, declining by 35 percent and 20 percent respectively.

The global market declined by about 11 percent, which isn’t nearly as bad as the year-on-year decline seen in Q1, which was the worst since records have been kept. But it marks the fifth quarter in a row of market declines, which makes for the worst such trend seen in the PC industry’s history.

Here’s Gartner’s table.

IDC, which measures things a little differently than Gartner, saw a bigger decline for HP, closer to eight percent. But the order of the top five vendors was pretty much in line with what Gartner saw. Here’s its table.

In the U.S. market things were a little different. Dell, for instance, saw a big surge in shipments. It came in second place behind HP and saw its U.S. shipments grow by about six percent according to both research firms. HP saw a small decline. Apple, in third place, saw Mac shipments decline by four percent in the Gartner survey, but less than one percent in the IDC survey, which is usually the one it cites. Lenovo saw a big increase of nearly 20 percent.

Gartner and IDC split over which company rounded out the top five. Gartner picked Toshiba, while IDC picked Acer. Either way, both saw declines of nearly 20 percent.

In celebrating its big win, Lenovo was quick to issue a statement from its chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing: “Even in the toughest PC market ever, Lenovo has not only gained share, but we have steadily improved profitability and introduced even more innovative products for every market segment. The battle for PC leadership could certainly still go back and forth. But I am fully confident that there remains substantial room for profitable growth and groundbreaking innovation in the global PC marketplace.”

Update: I just got a quick statement from HP:

“We don’t like being number two and we don’t plan to stay there. We have a multi OS, multi architecture and multi form factor computing strategy that we believe will delight customers and rebuild share. We’re also focused on building a profitable business that’s smart about its future.”

It’s worth remembering that HP’s PC business unit just had a bit of a management shakeup last month.

Lenovo has often been accused of being willing to sacrifice profitability in order to gain share, or at least of showing a recurring willingness to accept the thinnest of razor-thin profit margins where it can if only to make life difficult for its competitors. Keep in mind that Lenovo, based in China, is about one-third owned by a state-controlled entity.

If it seems like fighting to win the last war, it is by no stretch of argument. When it comes to personal computing, while it’s true that the personal computer will probably never disappear entirely, the focus has long since shifted to tablets. In May, IDC said sales of those will spike by 59 percent this year. And you just know which company is selling the most: Apple. Duh.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”