PC Growth Slows During the Fourth Quarter

PC growth slowed during the fourth quarter, evidence that in this category, at least, the recovery was not as strong as expected.

Using preliminary figures, Gartner reported that 93.5 million units were sold during the fourth quarter, up 3.1 percent from a year ago, but below Gartner's earlier projection of 4.8 percent growth. Rival IDC said that 92.1 million PCs were sold, up 2.7 percent and under the previous projection of 5.5 percent.

Chipmakers like had begun warning of lower holiday sales as early as September.

The quarter saw no shifts in the rankings of the top five PC vendors, either in the United States or worldwide. Both firms noted that Lenovo grew sharply in the worldwide PC market however, nearly overtaking Acer to become the world's third-largest PC vendor.

IDC blamed the rise of tablets for the slowing PC market, and named the Apple iPad specifically.

"The US market was expected to shrink year over year given the exploding growth experienced in the fourth quarter of 2009," said David Daoud, the research director who oversaw IDC's quarterly PC tracker forecast, in a statement. "Growth steadily slowed throughout 2010 as weakening demand and competition from the Apple iPad constrained PC shipments. In addition to relatively high market penetration and a 'good-enough' computing experience with existing PCs, consumers are being more cautious with their purchases and competing devices have been vying for consumer dollars. This situation is likely to persist in 2011, if not worsen, as a wave of Media Tablets could put a dent in the traditional PC market."

Gartner also noted the tablet phenomenon. "Overall, holiday PC sales were weak in many key regions due to the intensifying competition in consumer spending, said said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement. "Media tablets, such as the iPad, as well as other consumer electronic (CE) devices, such as game consoles, all competed against PCs."

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