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Third Quarter Global PC Shipments Increased 3.2 Percent

Worldwide PC shipments increased 3.2 percent to 91.8 million units in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the third quarter of 2010, according to researcher Gartner, Inc.

Earlier in the year, Gartner said that PC shipments would increase 5.1 percent. However, the European, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region contributed to lower-than-expected growth, according to Gartner. PC shipments in EMEA declined 2.9 percent in the third quarter to 26.6 million units.

Inventory buildup, which slowed PC growth over the last four quarters, mostly cleared out during the third quarter of this year. “However, the PC industry has been performing below normal seasonality," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

The slowdown is also impacting the industry as a whole. Lenovo's recent merger with NEC, and its acquisition of Medion, as well as HP's announcement that it may spin off or sell its PC business, underscores the industry slowdown.

HP, the global leader PC shipments, grew faster than the industry average, and its market share reached 17.7 percent in the third quarter of 2011. Despite announcing in the second quarter the potential spinoff of its PC business, HP experienced strong growth in the U.S., while outside the U.S., growth was relatively weak or average.

Lenovo became the second-largest PC vendor in the worldwide market for the first time as it increased sales 25.2 percent and now has 11.1 percent of the market. The company's growth was boosted in part by the joint venture with NEC in Japan. It was also aggressive marketing to both the professional and consumer PC markets helping to increase shipments.

In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 17.8 million units in the third quarter of 2011, a 1.1 percent increase from the third quarter of 2010. It was the first time in three quarters the US PC market experienced year-over-year growth.

Kitagawa said that in the U.S., there is intense “competition for consumers’ money. Media tablets and smartphones took center stage in the U.S. retail sector, and the expectation is for continuing demand for these devices throughout the holiday season.”