Worldwide PC shipments surpassed 90-million units in the fourth quarter of 2009, a 22,1% increase from the fourth quarter of 2008 – the strongest growth in seven years.

This is according to preliminary results by Gartner, which underlines that these numbers are compared to a very weak quarter a year ago due to the economic downturn at that time.
“These preliminary results indicate the recovery of the PC market on a global level,” says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “The US and Asia/Pacific had already shown positive indicators last quarter, however the fourth quarter 2009 results were more concrete evidence of the recovery.
"The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region entered the economic downturn later than the US and Asia/Pacific, so it has been slower to recover. The EMEA region returned to positive shipment growth for the first time in three quarters, and Latin America and Japan also recorded shipment increases.
“Shipment growth was largely driven by low-priced consumer mobile PCs, both in regular notebooks and mini-notebooks. As economic weakness continued, buyers became extremely price sensitive. Low-priced PCs were good enough for many average consumers,” Kitagawa adds. ”Windows 7 was launched during the fourth quarter of 2009. Though the new operating system launch did not create additional PC demand, the launch was a good market tool during holiday sales.”
HP maintained the top position in worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2009, as it grew slightly higher than the industry average). Gartner analysts said HP did very well in the US market, and it regained the number one position in the US and EMEA from last quarter.
Acer established itself as a leader of the sub-$500 consumer mobile PC segment in key regions. Acer’s improved branding strategies also helped it to work better with channel partners.
Dell grew below the worldwide average in the fourth quarter. The company did not fully benefit from strong holiday sales. Dell was not as aggressive on pricing as its competitors in order to protect profits.
In the US, PC shipments totalled 19,8-million units in the fourth quarter of 2009, a 26,5% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. Similar to worldwide trends, this was the highest quarter-on-quarter growth rate in the US in the last seven years.
“Aggressive promotion by PC vendors and channels stimulated consumer PC demand,” says Kitagawa. “However, some vendors made damaging price cuts to increase market share.”
HP surpassed Dell as the number one vendor in the US based on PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2009. HP became more competitive on pricing, and teamed up successfully with large retailers. Dell struggled to retain its share in the consumer market. Dell could not win the severe price battle in the retail space, and its ongoing weakness in the large enterprise market also affected its growth rate.
In the fourth quarter of 2009, PC shipments in EMEA totalled 29.7-million units, a 3,6% increase from the fourth quarter of 2008. PC shipments reached 96,4-million units in 2009, a 6,2% decline from 2008.
“The EMEA PC market was finally on the upward growth curve in the fourth quarter of 2009, and was the last major region across the world to do so,” says Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst for Gartner’s Client Computing Markets group in EMEA. “The quarter-on-quarter increase was nearly 17%, indicating a return to seasonal patterns.”
In the fourth quarter of 2009, the Western European PC market saw growth, as is the rest of the Middle East region. However, the Eastern Europe PC market remains weak and showed decline, despite some slow signs of improvement in some countries. Overall, the market did not decline as rapidly as expected in 2009, as consistent consumer spending helped to compensate for the reduction in IT budgets and professional PC spending.
Once again, mini-notebooks were the dominant growth platform. The mobile consumer market kept the Western Europe PC market going through the increased volume of mini-notebook shipments, with total mini-notebook volumes representing more than 20 per cent of the total EMEA mobile PC market. “The impact of Windows 7 was minimal. Vendors’ efforts to reduce Vista inventory before the Windows 7 launch were not fully successful as there was still an excess of Vista inventories at the beginning of the quarter slowing new shipments,” says Atwal.
Although HP posted a decline, it remained in the No. 1 position in the fourth quarter of 2009. It seems that HP’s strategy to reduce costs by merging the consumer and professional organisations impacted its ability to bring the most suitable products to market. Acer had the highest year-on-year growth at 37,1%, but this was still not enough to achieve the No. 1 position. Its sustained presence in the mini-notebook segment was enhanced by competitively priced mainstream products across all price points.
Unlike previous quarters all the vendors in the top five posted growth apart from HP and Toshiba, which suffered supply-chain issues. There is currently group of vendors consisting of Apple, Sony, Samsung and Lenovo which are all battling for fifth place.
“We predict that the EMEA PC market will exhibit 5% growth in the second quarter of 2010, and we anticipate a 10% growth for 2010,” says Atwal.
In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments surpassed 27,1-million units, a 44,4% increase from the fourth quarter of 2008. China was key to the region’s performance, as the country accounted for more than 61% of all PCs shipped in the region.
The PC market in Latin America grew 42,7% in the fourth quarter of 2009. This growth rate is partly so high because of the uncharacteristically low shipments in the fourth quarter of 2008. Mini-notebook prices continued to decrease as these devices increase their share of the PC market.
For the year, worldwide PC shipments totalled 306-million units, a 5,2% increase from 2008. PC shipment growth was driven by the consumer mobile PC market with acceleration of average selling prices (ASPs). HP defended its top position, while Dell was replaced by Acer as the number two vendor based on shipments. HP, Acer and Toshiba all benefited from strong consumer demand.