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PC sales drop as tablet and smartphone sales skyrocket

Consumers are increasingly turning to inexpensive tablet PCs

Consumers are increasingly turning to inexpensive tablet PCs and smartphones to get online, according to a recent study by Gartner. Credit: CNET

Personal-computer shipments dropped 10.9 percent in the second quarter, the fifth straight quarterly decline, as consumers continued to turn to smartphones and tablets for getting online, market researcher Gartner said.

Global unit shipments fell to 76 million in the period that ended in June, Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner said Wednesday in a statement. Sales declined from a year earlier in all regions worldwide, including a 1.4 percent slide in the United States, the researcher said.

Inexpensive tablets are displacing PCs as consumers' computing devices of choice, especially at the lower end of the market and in developing regions, Gartner said. Beijing-based Lenovo Group posted the narrowest decline in shipments among the top five vendors, helping it supplant Hewlett-Packard as the largest PC maker, the researcher said.

"We are seeing the PC market reduction directly tied to the shrinking installed base of PCs," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in the statement. "In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC."

Lenovo's unit sales fell 0.6 percent, although its market share rose to 16.7 percent, compared with 14.9 percent in last year's second quarter, Gartner said. Hewlett-Packard's global shipments declined 4.8 percent, for 16.3 percent of the market, while Dell posted a 3.9 percent drop, leaving it with an 11.8 percent share.

Shipments of desktop and laptop PCs will decline 10.6 percent in 2013, while tablet sales will increase 67.9 percent, Gartner estimated last month.

U.S. shipments declined to 15 million in the second quarter. Still, unit sales gained 8.5 percent from the prior quarter, and the year-over-year drop was the smallest in the past seven quarters, Gartner said.

"Our preliminary results indicate this reduced market decline was attributed to solid growth in the professional market," Gartner's Kitagawa said.

Dell's U.S. shipments rose 6.4 percent, and Hewlett- Packard's slipped less than 1 percent. Apple's unit sales in the U.S. slid 4.3 percent.

Dell's worldwide decline in shipments slowed, and the company showed growth in the United States and Japan, according to the report. Acer's global sales fell 35 percent, while Asustek Computer posted a 21 percent drop, reflecting their plans to exit the small notebook market.

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