IDC: Tablets, weak spending hurt PC shipments in Q4

New tablets this year could continue to hurt PC shipments

Worldwide PC shipments were slower than expected during the fourth quarter of 2010, hurt by competition from tablets and a slowdown in consumer spending, IDC said in a study released on Wednesday.

PC shipments worldwide were 92.1 million units during the fourth quarter, growing by only 2.7 percent compared to the same quarter in 2009, IDC said. IDC had originally projected growth of 5.5 percent.

The popularity of tablets like Apple's iPad has hurt the demand for PCs, said David Daoud, research director at IDC, in a statement. A new wave of tablets will hit the market this year, which could continue to hurt the PC market, Daoud said.

"Consumers are spending less than they used to," plus, devices like tablets are competing for consumer dollars, Daoud said.

Many tablets sporting Google's Android 3.0 OS, code-named Honeycomb, are expected to hit the market this year. At the Consumer Electronics Show last week, Motorola, Asustek Computer and LG showed Honeycomb tablets, while Research in Motion also showed off its PlayBook tablet, which is expected to ship by the end of the first quarter. The traditional PC powerhouses -- Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Lenovo -- are also making tablet plays to complement their PC business.

IDC in the past has said tablet shipments would be around 40 million units in 2011. Gartner has predicted tablet shipments of 54.8 million units this year.

And as the tablet shipments grow, the netbook craze is dying, IDC said. One of the top netbook vendors, Acer, saw its shipments decline year over year by 15 percent during the fourth quarter to 9.8 million units.

Hewlett-Packard retained its position as the top worldwide PC maker, though its shipments fell by 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter, IDC reported. The company shipped around 18 million PCs during the fourth quarter, giving it a 19.5 percent market share. Dell was the second-largest PC vendor, shipping 11.14 million units, growing year over year by 4.2 percent. That gave Dell a 12.1 percent market share. Acer was in third place, closely followed by Lenovo, whose shipments went up by 21.1 percent to 9.5 million units. Toshiba, in fifth place, saw 12.1 percent growth in PC shipments during the fourth quarter.

Despite the tablet onslaught, IDC is maintaining its double-digit growth-rate forecast for PC shipments this year, driven by enterprises replacing aging PCs. PC shipments last year totaled 346.2 million units, growing by 13.6 percent compared to 2009.

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Agam Shah

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