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Gartner: Windows 8 Did Not Significantly Impact PC Shipments in Q4

The market research firm estimated total unit shipments at 90.3 million, down 4.9 percent from Q4 2011, which saw shipments of 95.0 million. Gartner concluded that consumers are shifting content consumption from PCs to tablets. "We hypothesize," principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said, "that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet."

The company added that it believes that this trend will "continue until the installed base of PCs declines to accommodate tablets as the primary consumption device". If there is good news for PP makers, then there is a chance of higher average selling prices as the low-end of the market is gobbled up by tablets and PCs need to run richer applications.

For the first time in more than 20 years, the release of a new Windows OS did not impact PC shipments noticeably. According to Gartner, the reasons may lie in the fact that "some PC vendors offered somewhat lackluster form factors in their Windows 8 offerings and missed the excitement of touch". Windows 8 could show greater impact once the hardware improves.

In the market, HP regained the lead ahead of Lenovo, which had surpassed HP in Q3. On a global basis HP shipped 14.6 million PCs, Lenovo 14.0 million, Dell 9.2 million and Acer 8.6 million. HP led with 16.2 percent market share, followed by Lenovo with 15.5 percent and Dell with 10.2 percent. In the U.S. HP claimed 26.6 percent of the market with 4.7 million units, followed by Dell with 19.2 percent and 3.4 million PCs and Apple with 12.3 percent and 2.1 million computers.

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