Research firm Gartner says that an estimated drop of 4.9 percent in worldwide PC sales over the fourth quarter has signaled a shift in the market.
In the fourth quarter, PC shipments worldwide fell by an estimated 4.9 percent, according to the research firm. A total of 90.3 million units were sold, but a shift in both consumer habits and the fragile state of the economy played a part in making sure PC manufacturers had little to celebrate as their products were shunned in favor of tablets.
Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner said:
"Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by 'cannibalizing' PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs. This transformation was triggered by the availability of compelling low-cost tablets in 2012, and will continue until the installed base of PCs declines to accommodate tablets as the primary consumption device."
Consumers weren't clamoring for a new PC for Christmas, Gartner says, but instead the plethora of cheap tablets made sure that they replaced PCs as the "must have" gadget during the holiday season. Although there were a number of cheap notebooks on offer, this did little to excite the Christmas cheer for PC vendors.
However, it may not all be doom and gloom for PC makers. "On the positive side for vendors, the disenfranchised PCs are those with lighter configurations, which mean that we should see an increase in PC average selling prices (ASPs) as users replace machines used for richer applications, rather than for consumption," Kitagawa said.
Many of us waited to see if Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 8, would have any major impact on PC sales. Gartner says that Windows 8 failed to revitalize the PC market in the fourth quarter, mainly due to "lackluster form factors" in PC vendor offerings and a "lack of excitement" which is found in the touch element of tablets.
The research firm also says that Hewlett-Packard managed to climb back up to secure the top spot in worldwide PC shipments against rival Chinese firm Lenovo. However, HP's shipment rate did not change compared to a year ago, whereas Lenovo did experience the best growth rate among the top five PC vendors. Dell came in third place -- although its sales fell by 21 percent year over year -- whereas Acer came in fourth with a drop of 11 percent in PC shipments.
Over 2012, PC shipments reached 352.7 million units, which Gartner says is a 3.5 percent decline based on figures from 2011. HP still retains the top spot overall with a 16 percent marketshare and Lenovo is second with 14.8 percent. However, Asus has shown the highest rate of growth with shipments increasing 17.1 percent.
This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Gartner: Windows 8 failed to kick-start PC market.