PALO ALTO -- After a disputed report that Lenovo had overtaken Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) in personal-computer sales in the third quarter, analytics firms are in agreement at the end of the year: HP is still the king of a dwindling market.

Gartner reported Monday that the Palo Alto tech giant shipped 56.5 million PCs in 2012, giving it 16 percent of the market, while second-place Lenovo, a Chinese firm, commanded 14.8 percent of the market. Numbers broken out for the fourth quarter showed HP shipped more than a quarter -- 26.6 percent -- of PCs worldwide in the holiday shopping season.

IDC issued a similar report last week, saying HP shipped 58.1 million units in 2012 for a 16.5 percent market share. The two firms famously disagreed when reporting third-quarter PC sales in October, with Gartner reporting that Lenovo had a higher share than HP, and IDC saying the opposite. It was the first time Gartner had tracked anyone but HP as the leader in PC shipments in six years.

Hewlett-Packard unsurprisingly sided with IDC in the third quarter, and did so again on fourth-quarter numbers before Gartner released its tally. In a news release Friday, the Palo Alto tech giant repeated its earlier assertion that IDC includes workstation sales, "and therefore represents the most comprehensive analysis of the entire PC market."


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While the news that it still holds the throne for PC sales is good for HP, two main thrusts of the IDC and Gartner reports were not good news for the company: Windows 8 did not spark an immediate revival in PC sales, and Lenovo is gaining rapidly.

Both firms reported that PC sales in the holiday shopping season dropped dramatically, with Gartner tracking a 4.9 percent year-over-year decrease and IDC reporting a 6.4 percent dip. Those numbers are especially depressing for PC firms because they expected the new Microsoft operating system, which debuted near the end of October, to help push sales in the October-December quarter.

"The launch of Windows 8 had no impact on PC demand, especially as Ultramobile products were both limited in supply, as well as being priced too high," Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal said in his company's news release.

IDC's report faulted the hardware manufacturers, saying that the first wave of Windows 8 offerings did not take full advantage of the operating system's ability to offer both touchscreen and standard operability.

"Consumers expected all sorts of cool PCs with tablet and touch capabilities. Instead, they mostly saw traditional PCs that feature a new OS (Windows 8) optimized for touch and tablet with applications and hardware that are not yet able to fully utilize these capabilities," IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou said in his company's report.

Lenovo had the largest year-over-year growth in 2012 and finished just behind HP for both tracking companies. Gartner reported that Lenovo gained 14.2 percent with shipments of 52.1 million personal computers, while IDC recorded 19.2 percent growth to 52.5 million. Both companies said HP's shipments declined 6.7 percent from 2011 to 2012.

HP shares dropped 44.7 percent in 2012, as tablets took a large bite out of the PC market and CEO Meg Whitman attempted to turn around a company that has faced turmoil under previous leaders. The first two weeks of 2013 have been beneficial to the company's share price, however: The stock gained 4.9 percent Monday to close at $16.95, which represents a gain of 19 percent so far this year.

Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.