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Lenovo passes Dell in 'disappointing' PC market

Gartner reports that HP remained top PC maker as worldwide shipments increased by only 3.2% in Q3

Lenovo passed Dell to become the second-largest worldwide PC vendor behind Hewlett-Packard in the third 2011 quarter, pushing back rival Dell.

Global PC shipments hit a total of 91.8 million units in the third quarter of 2011, up 3.2% from the same period last year, according to figures compiled by Gartner. The researcher earlier this year had predicted that shipments will increase 5.1% in the period.

The third quarter growth closely mirrored those of the slow second quarter when about 85.2 million PCs were shipped, just 2.3% more than were shipped in the same period last year. Gartner had earlier predicted that second quarter sales would increase by 6.7%.

Gartner analysts yesterday noted that the PC industry has been unusually lackluster over the past six months.

"The inventory buildup, which slowed growth the last four quarters, mostly cleared out during the third quarter of this year; however, the PC industry has been performing below normal seasonality," said Mikako Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement. "As expected, back-to-school PC sales were disappointing in mature markets, confirming that the consumer PC market continues to be weak."

Kitagawa also noted that the booming popularity of non-PC devices , like Apple's iPad tablet and iPhone, as well as Android-based smartphones, have turned consumers' attention and spending away from PCs.

Top PC maker HP, which in August said it may spin off its PC-manufacturing business, held 17.7% of third-quarter PC market share.

But Lenovo had the best showing of the quarter, replacing Dell as the second-largest PC manufacturer in the world. Gartner analysts largely credited Lenovo's "aggressive marketing" in the enterprise and consumer markets for the company's upward movement.

According to Gartner analysts, strengthening competition in the enterprise market pushed Dell's performance below the industry average in most regions.

Acer Group grabbed the fourth position, while Asus rounded out the top five PC makers.

In the U.S., the PC market showed year-over-year growth -- 1.1% -- for the first time in three quarters. Gartner cited a sluggish consumer market and "disappointing" back-to-school sales for the continued disapointing U.S. results.

"The main contributor to the weak consumer PC market in the U.S. was intensified competition for consumers' money," Kitagawa said. "Media tablets and smartphones took center stage in the U.S. retail sector, and the expectation is for continuing demand for these devices throughout the holiday season."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is [email protected] .

Read more about hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.

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