Gartner analysts suspect PC slump has 'bottomed out' despite Q4 decline

Despite some optimism here and there, Gartner also labeled 2013 as "the worst decline in PC market history, equal to the shipment level in 2009."
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

It's a new year, but still the same old story for the PC industry -- or is it?

Gartner came out with its fourth quarter recap on Thursday after the bell, and at first glance, the same trends all seem to be in place.

Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard are up at the top with the gap between the two are widening. PC shipments continued to decline worldwide too.

Marking the seventh consecutive quarter of decline, worldwide PC shipments totaled 82.6 million units in Q4, down by 6.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012.

Nevertheless, analysts look optimistic for the industry going into the 2014 anyway.

Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa suggested in the report that the market research firm believes "markets, such as the U.S., have bottomed out as the adjustment to the installed base slows.

But don't expect anything to go back to the normal of roughly two years ago. Kitagawa warned that smartphones and tablets will continue to make a dent in PC shipment and sales figures, especially thanks to consumer trends in emerging markets.

"In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet," Kitagawa noted. "As a result, the adoption of PCs in emerging markets will be slower as consumers skip PCs for tablets."

Lenovo and Dell were the only PC vendors in the top five to see market share growth on an annual basis during the holiday quarter.

Lenovo was found to have showed strong growth in all regions, except one: Asia/Pacific. Coincidentally, the PC maker's home country of China continues to be a weak spot, as described by Gartner.

Stateside, the PC slump was larger with a 7.5 percent decline to just 15.8 million units shipped in Q4.

HP continues to reign supreme, despite a 10.3 percent decline in shipments year-over-year. Apple, in third place on the domestic PC vendor charts, saw a huge increase in market share: 28.5 percent more, year-over-year.

For the year overall, PC shipments were 315.9 million units, a 10 percent decline from 2012. Quite simply, Gartner labeled it as "the worst decline in PC market history, equal to the shipment level in 2009."

Chart via Gartner

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