Lenovo overtakes HP in PC sales as market contracts

Lenovo grabbed the top PC shipping spot in the fourth quarter.                  Tyler Lizenby  CNET

What's worse for Apple is that sales declined from 5.1 million units in the same quarter of the year before, while in the United States, MacBook shipments dropped from 1.8 million to 1.76 million units. Dell, sitting in third, also saw its shipments grow during the quarter.

Both firms point to a shortage of CPUs and mounting trade tensions between the US and China as causes for the decline. Aggressive stocking of inventory during the previous quarter (3Q18) in anticipation of the shortage led to some sell-through challenges, driving a reduction of Q4 shipments in some regions. Japan had an especially strong quarter driven by commercial refresh, which lifted virtually all aspects of the market. Due to uncertainties of the U.S.

"As demand for Chinese products in the USA drops, this particularly impacts businesses of all sizes from the manufacturing sector in China, which, in turn, translates to a drop in IT purchases by these companies". "As a result, the PC market in China is expected to suffer bigger declines throughout the year".

The end of the processor shortage will likely help boost PC sales but any further escalation of the U.S. trade war against China could be devastating for the PC market.

"Just when demand in the PC market started seeing positive results, a shortage of CPUs (central processing units) created supply chain issues".

While we can't comment on political influences on the PC market, with AMD and Intel kicking out or on the brink of releasing new processors, the lack of CPU supply should improve this year.

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USA: The traditional PC market in the US saw a modest uptick in volume from the year prior. The top 3 vendors boosted their share of the global PC market, together accounting for 63 percent of shipments, from 59 percent the year before.

Lenovo regained its position as the PC vendor with the most sales in the fourth quarter of 2018, an accolade earned by HP in 2017.

Back then, the PC market has been in decline for 14 quarters in a row since the second quarter of 2012. "The impact from the CPU shortage affected vendors' ability to fulfill demand created by business PC upgrades". International Data Corporation (IDC) and Gartner in separate reports highlighted the outcome of the trade war. Additionally, the top three companies showed growth.

However, Lenovo seems to be an exception as the overall market has been stagnant.

Apple remained in the fourth position with market share of 7.2 percent and growth of -3.8 percent. The top four firms are the same as Gartner, and Acer replaces Asus in fifth spot.

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