Gartner has just released its preliminary worldwide PC sales numbers for the third quarter of 2012, and for most manufacturers the news isn't good: of the companies named, only Lenovo and Asus performed better in this year's Q3 than they did last year's. HP has given up so much market share that Lenovo was able to pass the company to become the largest PC OEM worldwide. This is the first time that Lenovo has taken the worldwide market share crown, and the first time that HP has lost it since the end of 2006.
Gartner blamed a lackluster back-to-school season and a weak consumer PC market for much of the decline, which also affected Dell (down 1.4 million units year-over-year) and Acer (down 1 million units year-over-year) among others. The fallout from HP's corporate troubles is clearly visible: its third-quarter shipments are down nearly three million units compared to the third quarter of 2011, and while most PC makers are doing worse this year than last, none of them suffered such a precipitous drop in sales.
Asus shipped about 670,000 more PCs in Q3 2012 than in Q3 2011, making it the only other listed vendor whose sales are up worldwide since last year.
In the US, the story is slightly different. Lenovo is the only individual vendor listed whose market share improved in the quarter ("Others" also improved slightly, but individual companies weren't named), but it's still a fairly distant fourth place behind HP, Dell, and Apple, respectively. HP and Dell have lost market share domestically since last year, and while Apple is down for the quarter, it's still up overall. Its dip in sales is likely attributable to the fact that its entire desktop line has gone for at least a year without any hardware refreshes.
Whether Windows 8 and the holiday season can pull PC sales out of their current slump remains to be seen, but IHS iSuppli is forecasting that 2012's total shipments will be 1.2 percent lower than 2011's numbers, the first decline since the burst of the dot-com bubble in 2001.
All of this gloomy data is offset a bit by the fact that neither Gartner nor IHS include sales of tablets or smartphones in their sales data, instead listing only traditional form factors like desktops, laptops, and variants thereof. For example, even if you added only the 17 million iPads Apple announced it had sold in its most recent earnings call, total sales would actually be up 8.7 percent; figuring in the Android ecosystem would bump it considerably higher. Given these numbers, it's easy to see why PC OEMs are eager to jump on the tablet train: it's not a great time to be selling traditional PCs.