Hard drive shortage nails Q4 PC growth, but Apple shines

Only Apple---fueled by its solid state drive MacBook Air---skated through the fourth quarter unscathed in the U.S.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Global PC shipments for the fourth quarter were down 0.2 percent compared to a year ago as the industry was nailed by hard drive shortages and competition from tablets, phones and e-readers, according to data from IDC and Gartner.

Only Apple---fueled by its solid state drive MacBook Air---skated by unscathed. Apple delivered fourth quarter growth of 18 percent in the U.S.

For 2011, the PC industry grew at a 1.6 percent clip. Europe and Asia was better than expected. Overall though, hard drive shortages and a pause ahead of Windows 8 are going to keep PC growth in check.

IDC expects first quarter shipments to slow, but then pick up in the fourth quarter. For 2012, IDC is expecting growth of 5.4 percent.

Here's the IDC PC standings:

Gartner had a similar story as its fourth quarter sales fell 1.5 percent. Like IDC, Gartner cited emerging market growth. Gartner said:

Hard-disk drive (HDD) shortages triggered by the October 2011 floods in Thailand had a limited impact on fourth-quarter PC shipments and prices. However, Gartner analysts said a major impact will be felt, and this is expected to materialize in the first half of 2012, and potentially continue throughout 2012. These shortages will temporarily lower PC shipment growth during 2012.

Gartner also noted that ultrabooks didn't attract consumers with a relatively soft launch.

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