Microsoft can't tap into the fast-growing tablet market, according to new figures that reveal lacklustre sales of Surface RT and other Windows 8 slabs.
Canalys figures for Q4 show a 12 per cent growth in the worldwide PC market, fuelled by a 75 per cent rise in tab shipments to 46.2 million units. Notebooks sales were flat (58 million), desktops declined 5 per cent (28 million) and netbooks took their last gasps of breath.
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Yet Microsoft wasn't able to seize a big slice of the action - only 1.6 million Windows-based tabs were bought by customers - including 722,000 Surface RT devices. This represents a tab market share of 3.4 per cent.
"Windows 8 launched late in the year and was a massive departure from the existing operating systems, so consumers played a wait-and-see game," said Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys.
He said Windows RT was too expensive for OEMs, and Microsoft's decision to sell Surface RT direct, and latterly through selected retailers - John Lewis and Harrods in the UK - had limited sales and caused confusion for consumers.
"We expect Microsoft to rethink its pricing strategy for RT in the coming weeks. Dropping the price by 60 per cent should get OEMs back onside," said Coulling.
But the fact RT was not compatible with legacy applications left punters reliant on Microsoft's app store which was another reason it failed to get off the ground, Canalys said.
Microsoft is heading for a big fall with the Surface Pro if it follows the same sales strategy, the analyst warned.
Unsurprisingly, Apple continued to lead global pad shipments but grew slower (48.7 per cent) than the market average leaving it with a market share of 49.5 per cent, compared to 58.1 per cent a year ago.
Korean giant Samsung pushed up unit sales to 7.6m from 2.3m in Q4 2011 to take second spot. Coulling said it started to price products more aggressively and took share. Amazon, Google and Lenovo filled the third, fourth and fifth spots.
In the total PC market, Apple held onto the crown by accounting for one fifth (26.9m) of the market for the first time ever following Q4 growth of nearly 31 per cent.
Former kingpin HP had another disappointing quarter as shipments fell 1.6 per cent (15m) leaving it with 11.2 per cent market share. Lenovo was within touching distance after growing 10.1 per cent (14.8m) to take 11.1 per cent of total unit sales.
The pad sales surge from Samsung saw it take fourth spot in the global PC stakes, growing 102.9 per cent (11.7m) to take 8.8 per cent share.
As for Texan PC baron Dell, shipment declined 19.1 per cent (9.6m) and its share of the space fell from nearly ten per cent year-on-year to 7.2 per cent.
The firm's reputation in the PC market "continues to fade" said Coulling, adding the US PC market was challenged, the shift to enterprise tech wasn't helping and neither was its lack of tab devices. ®