Worldwide PC shipments totaled 87.5 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a decline of 8.3 percent compared with the third quarter of 2011, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. "A continuing slowdown in consumer PC shipments played a big part in the overall PC market decline," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "The third quarter was also a transitional quarter before Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system release, so shipments were less vigorous as vendors and their channel partners liquidated inventory. "Retailers were conservative in placing orders as they responded to weak back-to-school sales. By the end of September, retailers were focused on clearing out inventory in advance of the Windows 8 launch later this month," Ms. Kitagawa said. "On the professional side, there was minimum impact from Windows 8 in the quarter because the professional market will not adopt Windows 8 PCs immediately after the release." Lenovo took the No. 1 position in worldwide PC shipments for the first time in the company's history, as its share increased to 15.7 percent, while HP's global PC share was at 15.5 percent (see Table 1). In addition to acquiring other vendors, Lenovo has also taken an aggressive position on pricing, especially in the professional market. As a result, Lenovo has achieved significant market share gains over the last two years, exceeding regional average growth rates across all regions. Table 1 Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 3Q12 (Units) Note: Data includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad. Source: Gartner (October 2012) Although it finished the quarter very close to Lenovo, HP has given up the top PC vendor position for the first time since the third quarter of 2006. HP is currently restructuring its device business, including PCs, tablets and printers. HP's main concern is achieving a good balance between market share gain and margin protection. Dell was the No. 3 vendor in PC shipments worldwide in the third quarter of 2012. While Dell suffered a steeper shipment decline than the worldwide average, it was less impacted by the upcoming release of Windows 8 because of its strong focus in the professional market. Dell continues to gradually transform itself from a PC/device supplier to a solution provider. In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 15.3 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 13.8 percent decline compared with the same period last year. "The third quarter has historically been driven by back-to-school sales, but U.S. PC shipments did not increase, not even sequentially, from the second quarter of 2012. Channels were conservative in placing orders," Ms. Kitagawa said. "Professional PC shipments in the U.S. began slowing in the second quarter of this year, and they continued the trend in the third quarter. The results indicate that the replacement peak may have passed in the professional sector." Four of the top 5 vendors in the U.S. market experienced shipment declines. HP maintained the No. 1 position in the U.S. market despite a shipment decline of 19.3 percent (see Table 2). Lenovo was the only vendor among the top 5 to increase shipments. Both Acer and Toshiba shipments declined significantly due to the tough environment in the consumer market. Apple expected to have a PC shipment decline due to softness in the public market, but the company faced a slowdown in the consumer market. Table 2 Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 3Q12 (Units) Note: Data includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad. Source: Gartner (October 2012) From a regional perspective, PC shipments in EMEA totaled 25.8 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a decline of 8.7 percent from the same quarter last year. After two quarters of positive growth in the first half of 2012, the EMEA market experienced its biggest decline in four years. The lack of appeal and innovation in PCs combined with a challenging economic environment diverted user spending elsewhere. Western Europe saw very weak shipments across all countries, as retailers reduced Windows 7 inventory in anticipation of Windows 8 products. In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments reached 31.3 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 5.6 percent decline from the third quarter of 2011. Weak demand was brought about as potential buyers chose to reign in or delay their purchases. China's slowing economy was more acutely felt in the region in the third quarter, creating an even more conservative approach to spending. Although there were government PC initiatives in India and China to drive PC sales, they failed to offset the general market weakness. Preliminary results show PC shipments in Latin America surpassed 9.7 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 6.2 percent decline from the same period last year. Mobile PC shipments were flat, and desk-based PC shipments declined 14.3 percent. Brazilian businesses and schools may postpone their IT purchasing due to the expected "Brasil Maior" tax incentives that were announced late in the quarter. The tax incentives will begin in 2013, and this is when Gartner expects IT investments to drive PC shipments into the professional segment. In Japan, PC shipments totaled 3.7 million units in the third quarter, a 5.4 percent decline from the third quarter of 2011. The professional segment grew slightly higher than expected, but the market was impacted by the consumer segment. Most of the major vendors did not introduce new models of mainstream products in September due to the preparation for Windows 8. These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner's PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing product planning, distribution, marketing and sales organizations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe.