Lenovo edges out HP
China's Lenovo Group edged out Silicon Valley icon Hewlett-Packard to become the world's top PC maker in the third quarter, according to data released by research house Gartner.
A rival to Gartner, IDC, still ranks HP in the lead - but by less than half a percentage point - in terms of PC shipments worldwide. Both studies reinforce HP's struggles against rivals as new chief executive Meg Whitman tries to overhaul the stalled 73-year-old company.
Worldwide shipments of personal computers fell over 8 per cent last quarter, according to both research firms, which blamed myriad factors including retailers and vendors ridding themselves of older inventory ahead of the launch of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, the growing popularity of mobile gadgets like tablets, and a slowing economy.
PC demand growth has crumbled over the past year as more consumers flock to ultra-portable and increasingly powerful tablets and smartphones for basic computing.
Both sets of data show that Lenovo, Taiwan's Acer and other Asian PC makers are taking share away from US competitors HP and Dell, which held on to the third spot in the quarter.
Lenovo, which has a market value of $8.2 billion, said it believed there was room for continued growth in the sector.
"We are establishing even deeper roots in each major market around the world. In addition to localised sales and distribution teams in major markets, we are establishing an even stronger manufacturing footprint," Lenovo chairman and CEO Yuanqing Yang said in a statement.
Lenovo's rise highlights the advance of China's technology firms on the world stage in recent years as a result of aggressive pricing, overseas acquisitions, and taking advantage of a fast-growing home market.
The Chinese company, which vaulted into the PC market by buying IBM's personal computer division in 2005, took the top spot for the first time by growing its market share to 15.7 per cent, shipping an estimated 13.77 million units during the quarter, up nearly 10 per cent from a year ago, Gartner said.
HP's global PC share stood at 15.5 per cent after shipping 13.55 million units, down 16.4 per cent from a year ago, Gartner said, adding that this was the first time HP has not been the top-ranked PC vendor position since 2006.
IDC had HP at the top spot with a 15.9 per cent market share, marginally ahead of Lenovo's 15.7 per cent share.
HP responded to Gartner's study by saying IDC's was more expansive.
"While there are a variety of PC share reports in the market, some don't measure the market in its entirety," HP said in a statement. "The IDC analysis includes the very important workstation segment, and therefore is more comprehensive."
Analysts say PC makers are suffering from still-sluggish growth in consumer and corporate spending across the globe, even in once-reliably hot markets like China, Lenovo's home turf. The industry's future is uncertain, partly because of a proliferation of computing devices from tablets of all sizes to smartphones.
"PCs are going through a severe slump," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC's Worldwide PC Tracker.
"A weak global economy as well as questions about PC market saturation and delayed replacement cycles are certainly a factor, but the hard question of what is the 'it' product for PCs remain unanswered."