Going up: PC market climbs 21%, with HP back on top

Reports of the death of the PC are, it seems, greatly exaggerated.

While there are those who would have us believe that the rise of the iPad has already led us into a post-PC world, the latest figures indicate that that idea is a bit wide of the mark. Leading industry analysis group Canalys has released its figures for the first quarter of 2012, revealing that PC shipments were up by a massive 21% year-on-year.

Canalys generously allows Apple to count the iPad as a PC, which is how Apple became the world’s top PC maker in Q4 2011 (for now, we’ll gloss over the insanity of claims that the iPad has killed the PC, if the iPad is a PC). You may therefore be under the impression that any growth in the PC market last quarter was entirely down to soaring iPad sales – but that’s not the case at all.

Sales of Apple's iPad weren't so hot last quarter.

In fact, iPad shipments in Q1 2012 fell by over 20% compared with the previous quarter to 11.8m units, and Apple’s total PC shipments (including iPads) came in at 15.8m units. That allowed HP to inch ahead, regaining the top spot as the world’s top PC maker – although it did so with a lead of just 40,000 computers. If we exclude the iPad from Apple’s total though, the 4m Macs shipped doesn’t come close to matching HP’s PC shipments (try saying that quickly when you're drunk).

The figures from Canalys indicate that Lenovo came in third overall, achieving spectacular, market-busting growth of 50% year-on-year. Acer and Dell came in fourth and fifth respectively, but both saw their PC shipments fall, compared with the same quarter a year ago.

The 21% growth in the PC market as a whole took worldwide shipments to 107m units. Unsurprisingly, the tablet category saw the largest growth overall, with shipments increasing by over 200% year on year, but notebook shipments were up 11% too, with a respectable 8% increase in desktop PC shipments as well. It will likely shock no-one to learn that netbook shipments fell for a sixth consecutive quarter, down by 34% year-on-year.

Globally, tablets now comprise 19% of all PC shipments, but in the US that figure is much higher at 40%. Canalys VP and Principal Analyst, Chris Jones, explained: “The pad proposition for US consumers is very strong – thanks to the wider choice in content and apps – and the impact on the other categories is more severe.” Canalys added that despite the positivity in these Q1 figures, there will be “ongoing uncertainty” for PC makers throughout the rest of the year.

PC makers will be looking to Windows 8 to reinvigorate sales, amid market uncertainty.

But there is hope, and it comes in the form of Windows 8. Canalys claims that a “big transition will take place in the second half of the year with Windows 8… By [Q4], thin and light laptops will be approaching mainstream price points and a new wave of pads, based on Microsoft’s new OS, will be hitting the market.”

But there is a note of caution: “Positive reception to Windows 8, on all PC form factors, is critical. Assuming this is achieved, PC vendors will be able to look forward to 2013 with renewed optimism.”

> Get advice and tips, or just join in the discussions, on Windows 8 on the Neowin Forums

> Check out our first glimpse of the new HP Slate 8, the company's new Windows 8 tablet

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