Acer dropped out of the medal positions in the global PC arena, and was shunted into fourth spot as HP, Dell and Lenovo made more of the growth in professional products across emerging markets to offset weakened retail demand in mature IT economies.
Shipments into the channel – as opposed to sales out to customers – edged up a modest 2.3 per cent to 85.2 million units, according to preliminary Q2 numbers from Gartner, while IDC said sales went up 2.6 per cent, below forecasts of 2.9 per cent.
"Vendors' performances have become variable as they have had to deal with significant inventory build-up, changes to their product mix, and the fact that growth has been coming mostly from emerging markets," said Gartner bean-counter Mikaki Kitagawa.
The US market declined 5.6 per cent, sales in EMEA dropped 4.8 per cent – due to sluggishness in Western Europe – but Asia Pacific grew 9.6 per cent, Latin America rebounded 15 per cent, and despite the disaster in Japan sales went up 5.5 per cent.
The numbers indicate the PC market continues to adjust to the slowdown from Q3 last year as vendors redirect investment away from flagging mature retail markets and plough it into the burgeoning tablet space, said the analyst.
HP benefited from the continuing professional client refresh among both small and large businesses to hold 17.5 per cent market share, and Dell snuck into second place for the first time since Q4 2008 as the market dynamics favoured its product mix.
Lenovo seized control of the third spot on the back of a 22.5 per cent rise in sales-in, the strongest of all the major vendors, with growth in Asia Pacific, the US and Latin America.
Troubled PC vendor Acer, which rose to prominence on the wave of low-cost consumer notebooks, continued to struggle with sales down more than 20 per cent year-on-year, not a shock given the EMEA inventory challenges it faces.
In EMEA, Acer sales fell nearly 35 per cent, "as some three million mobile PCs were cleared out of distribution," said Gartner. "Acer's weak performance contributed nearly 55 per cent to the decline of the EMEA PC market in the second half of 2011."
By removing Acer from the equation, the EMEA market would have actually reported growth of 3 per cent, the analyst said.
"While this may be an impractical view of the market, it is important to separate supply issues of one vendor against the general trends in the market," said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.
IDC argued the modest growth in global shipments was due to a "hangover" from the year ago period when sales leaped 20 per cent post recession, but it added that stiff competition on traditional PCs from newer devices and a flakey economy also played a part.
"These preliminary results continue to reflect pressure from competing consumer and business products as well as cautious spending," said IDC senior analyst Jay Chou.
"Nevertheless, product refreshes and promotions in the second half of the year as well as easier year-ago data should boost growth in the second half," he added. ®