Pc market grew by only 0.5 percent in 2011

Pc manufacturers are struggling with the u.S. Economy and the euro crisis in western europe, as well as increasing competition from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. While demand from companies remains good, many consumers are foregoing a new computer.

The industry is being squeezed from two sides at once, gartner analyst ranjit atwal explained on thursday. On the one hand, consumers in america and europe have less money to spend. On the other hand, smartphones and tablets are currently more attractive in their eyes. "Pc manufacturers are currently doing a poor job of convincing consumers that they need a new computer," the expert summed up.

The pc business developed much more weakly than gartner had expected. Market researchers had cut their forecast for annual growth from 9.3 to 3.8 percent only in september.

The industry is now hoping for the new ultrabook device class — these are particularly flat and energy-saving notebooks. The aim is to encourage pc users to buy computers again. Atwal was rather skeptical: he was not sure whether the perceived added value for users would be sufficient. Finally, the new devices had to compete with the popular tablets and smartphones for the favor of consumers.

In any case, the first ultrabooks met with little interest from consumers during the christmas season, partly because only a few potential computer buyers were initially aware of their market launch, explained gartner analyst mikako kitagawa. However, in the past few days, the industry has been massively promoting the new notebook category at the ces electronics trade show in las vegas.

Hewlett-packard remained pc market leader last year. Hp’s market share was 17.2 percent, up from 17.9 percent last year. Chinese manufacturer lenovo moved up to second place with 13 percent of the market. The buyer of ibm’s pc division overtook both acer and the former market leader dell, which is now number three with a market share of 12.1 percent.

The apple group, which four years ago set the example for ultrabooks with its increasingly successful macbook air, is still not among the world’s five largest pc manufacturers, according to gartner figures. The mac vendor, however, was not allowed to lag very far behind asus with its 5.9 percent.

In the u.S., apple was number three in the fourth quarter with 11.6 percent market share. The development there was striking: while sales at market leader hp slumped by 26.1 percent to 4.14 million pcs, apple jumped by a good fifth to just under 2.1 million macs sold. Overall, the u.S. Pc market contracted by 5.9 percent in the final quarter of 2011. Worldwide sales fell by 1.4 percent to 92.2 million computers.

Kitagawa attributed the general reluctance to buy a pc in part to the uncertain economic situation in western europe. In the europe, middle east and africa region, shipments fell particularly sharply by 9.6 percent. The trend was observed to be accelerated by the fact that many customers had turned to the booming smartphones and tablet computers.

The october floods in thailand, however, had only a limited impact on christmas sales, said kitagawa. Hard disk production in the region had been affected. Kitagawa, however, believes that there could be noticeable shortages in pc production this year. With this, the market expert contradicted microsoft. The day before, the software group had identified the flood disaster in thailand as the main reason for the weak pc market.

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