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Canalys: HP regains top spot in client PC market

T.C. Seow | May 2, 2012
Overall client PC market up 21 percent, but the coming quarters present challenges.

HP retook the lead in the worldwide client PC market in Q1 2012, according to the latest figures published by analyst firm Canalys.

Apple ousted the long-time PC market leader in the fourth quarter of 2011, thanks largely to record iPad shipments (in excess of 15 million units). In the first quarter of this year, however, Apple shipped 11.8 million iPads, bringing its total client PC number for the quarter to 15.8 million. HP’s shipments were higher by around 40,000 units, according to Canalys estimates; just enough to give it the lead.

Lenovo took third place, on the back of impressive year-on-year growth of 50 percent. Acer and Dell took the remaining top-five places, but with shipments down on the same quarter a year ago.

The total client PC market grew by 21 percent to 107 million units. Importantly, while the tablet category exhibited the highest growth -- more than 200 percent year on year -- notebook and desktop PC shipments were up too, rising 11 percent and 8 percent respectively. Netbook shipments, however, were down 34 percent on the year-ago quarter -- the sixth such fall in succession.

"Most of the leading PC vendors have done a reasonable job of offsetting the declines in their netbook shipments over the past year with increased pad business," said Canalys research analyst, Tom Evans. "Samsung and Lenovo are two that stand out in terms of substantially increasing overall volume, though Asus has performed well too."

According to Evans, vendors will be hard pressed to break out into the big volumes to challenge the leaders -- Apple and Amazon. So far, only Samsung has shown it can routinely ship more than a million pads a quarter, he said.

Globally, Canalys reports that tablets represented 19 percent of all client PC shipments during the first quarter, up substantially from 7 percent a year ago, but down on the 22 percent recorded in fourth quarter 2011. Netbooks have fallen to 5 percent from a high of 13 percent two years ago. Notebooks represented just under half of the overall market by units.

Looking at overall client PC shipments by region, Canalys estimates that North America grew 31 percent year-on-year, compared to 19 percent for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Asia-Pacific. Latin American growth lagged at only 10 percent. But Canalys points out that the growth in North America was being boosted by tablets much more than in the other regions.

"If you look at the US, pads are approaching 40 percent of all client PC shipments," said Canalys VP and principal analyst, Chris Jones. "The rest of the market here was down slightly in Q1. The tablet proposition for US consumers is very strong -- thanks to the wider choice in content and apps -- and the impact on the other categories is more severe."


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