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PC shipments record first holiday sales decline in 5 years

The International Data Corporation (IDC) has found that global PC shipments in Q4 have tumbled by 6.4 per cent, making this past holiday period the first time in five years to see a decline in computer sales from the previous year.

The US market had a particularly poor spell, seeing a quarterly drop of 4.5 per cent and contributing to a 7 per cent, 2012 decline.

The lacklustre quarterly performance is indicative of the general malaise affecting the PC market of late. However, the release of Microsoft's industry-driving operating system, Windows 8, was expected to improve the current fortunes of PC manufacturers.

Sluggish consumer response is in part due to the proliferation of tablets, which IDC says has drawn custom away from touchscreen Windows 8 devices. Increased spending on smartphones also proved detrimental to PC retail.

"Although the third quarter was focused on the clearing of Windows 7 inventory, preliminary research indicates the clearance did not significantly boost the uptake of Windows 8 systems in Q4," said Jay Chou, IDC senior research analyst.

"Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience. As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as Ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013," he added.

The individual performances of PC vendors weren't all bleak as Lenovo saw record-high sales of 14 million units, though this is tempered by a drop in market growth to 8 per cent. HP maintained its global position as the top PC vendor with Samsung and Asus also recording strong performances.

"Despite a generally weak performance, some leading brands managed do to well relative to the market. HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Samsung were among the top performers, taking advantage of some consumer interest in Windows 8, and a push to build up their presence ahead of 2013," said IDC research director, David Daoud.