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Brutal Quarter for PCs

PC sales were supposed to be ugly in the third quarter, but they came in even worse than expected.

Worldwide PC shipments contracted 8.6 percent in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago, according to preliminary figures released this week by IDC for the July-through-September period, which includes the critical back-to-school buying season. As recently as August, IDC had forecast a more modest 3.8 percent drop.

The market was even worse in the United States, contracting 12.4 percent compared to a forecast of negative 9.4 percent.

HP and Dell both underperformed in the bad global market. HP's PC shipments fell more than 16 percent. With Lenovo's 10 percent shipment gain, the Chinese OEM is challenging HP for the top spot in PC sales. Dell also saw shipments drop by 14 percent, according to IDC's figures.

"PCs are going through a severe slump," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC, in a statement. "The industry had already weathered a rough second quarter, and now the third quarter was even worse."

IDC chalked up the extremely bad quarter to economic concerns, PC market saturation, the diversion of PC spending to tablets and smartphones, and the wait for Windows 8, which becomes generally available on Oct. 26.

Even with Windows 8 in the mix for most of the fourth quarter, IDC isn't expecting a blockbuster holiday season. The firm's forecast calls for a "potential return to positive growth at the end of this year."

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 11, 2012 at 11:58 AM


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