Gartner's preliminary fourth quarter results show that PC shipments increased 1,1% over 2007, with 78,1-million units sold around the world, making it the worst quarter the industry has experienced since 2002.
"The US experienced steeper than expected shipment declines due to the recession. The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region was also affected by the economic slow down across key countries," says Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group.
"Asia/Pacific recorded the worst shipment growth since Gartner started its PC statistics research. Latin America met expectations, but its growth was much lower than in the past."
The growth driver for the 2008 holiday PC season was the mini-notebook segment. With more vendors offering creative sales promotions, the mini-notebook segment outpaced overall mobile PC growth.
However, PC revenue experienced a record decline. Steep average selling price (ASP) declines, as well as robust growth of low-priced systems, including mini-notebooks, contributed to this drop.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) managed to grow above the worldwide average in the fourth quarter of 2008, but its year-on-year growth was its lowest since its merger with Compaq in 2003. HP did well in EMEA by aggressively promoting the mini-notebook segment, but it was impacted by sales in the US market.
Dell showed strong growth in Asia/Pacific, but it struggled to increase shipment volume in North America and EMEA in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Acer continued to show exceptional growth with worldwide PC shipments growing 31,1% in the fourth quarter of 2008. Acer's sales were driven by low-priced PCs such as mini-notebooks.
Lenovo maintained the fourth position in the worldwide market in the fourth quarter, but it suffered a shipment decline for the first time since 2006.
In EMEA, PC shipments reached 107,9-million units in 2008, a 17% increase from 2007. In the fourth quarter of 2008, PC shipments totalled 30,4-million units, only a 4,9% increase from the fourth quarter of 2007.
"As expected the EMEA PC market slowed rapidly during the fourth quarter of 2008 with growth levels hitting those last seen during the 2000/2001 period," says Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group in EMEA. "Although the fourth quarter results lowered the overall 2008 growth rate, the market still saw strong growth at 17% for the year and Hewlett Packard retained the leading vendor position in EMEA."
HP regained the number one position from Acer in the fourth quarter of 2008 and remained the top vendor in 2008. HP had impressive growth in consumer mobile, especially in France. In contrast, Acer had to reduce inventory levels as demand from the channel decreased in these uncertain times.
"Asus exhibited the best performance year-on-year with 67,9% growth. Its performance was primarily driven by continued demand in the mini-notebook market," says Atwal.