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PC shipments worldwide totaled 84.3 million units in the first
quarter of 2011, a 1.1 percent decline from the first quarter of 2010,
according to preliminary results from IT research firm Gartner.
Although the first quarter is traditionally a slow one for PC sales,
these shipment results indicated potential sluggishness, not just a
normal seasonal slowdown, the report said. In addition, the figures are
below Gartner’s earlier forecast for three percent growth in the first
quarter of 2011.

Steady growth in the professional PC sector, driven by the replacement
cycle, was a bright spot for the global PC market. Without the
professional segment growth, the PC market could have experienced one
of the worst declines in its recent history, the report warned:
Replacement sales will generally continue into late 2011 or the start
of 2012, with some variations between different regions and market

HP performed below the worldwide average, but maintained the top
position, accounting for 17.6 percent of worldwide PC shipments in the
first quarter of 2011. The report noted weak consumer PC demand, as
well as growing issues in Asia/Pacific impacted HP. Acer continued to
face challenges as the mini-notebook market was impacted by media
tablets, and its shipments declined 12.2 percent—still good enough for
a second place finish.

"Weak demand for consumer PCs was the biggest inhibitor of growth,"
said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Low prices for
consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted
buyers. Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and
other consumer electronics. With the launch of the iPad 2 in February,
more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or
simply held back from buying PCs. We’re investigating whether this
trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market."

In the United States, PC shipments totaled 16.1 million units in the first
quarter of 2011, a 6.1 percent decline from the first quarter of 2010.
"As with the worldwide market, the U.S. PC market was affected by the
hype surrounding media tablets. This was the third consecutive quarter
of mobile PC shipment declines in the U.S.," Kitagawa said. "The U.S.
professional PC market showed steady growth across all sectors.
However, the public sector showed more than the normal seasonal
weakness due to budgetary issues."

HP continued to lead the U.S. market with its market share increasing
to 26.2 percent, despite a shipment decline of 3.5 percent in the first
quarter. While HP struggled in the consumer PC market, it also
encountered tough price competition in the professional segment,
especially in the midmarket, the report noted.