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Microsoft, Dell and Acer see PC sales fall as sector struggles to compete with smartphones and tablets

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

January 14, 2013 | 2 min read

The latest figures show that the PC sector is continuing to struggle to match competition from tablets and smartphones. According to analyst firm IDC and technology research group Gartner, worldwide PC shipments declined roughly 6.4 per cent year-on-year to 90.3 million units in the last three months of 2012 - a worse performance than many expected and the worst final quarter for more than five years.

For all of 2012, 352 million PCs were sold, down 3.2 percent from 2011. That was the first annual decline since 2001, according to IDC, in the wake of the tech stock crash and the September 11 attacks.

The latest figures have also revealed that Microsoft is struggling to spur its PC sales despite the release of Windows 8.

Gartner found that Microsoft’s new operating system did not have a significant impact on PC shipments in the fourth quarter, as sales dropped by 4.3 per cent year on year. Gartner stated that this was partly because the first Windows 8 devices lacked the excitement of the touch interface found in tablets.

Meanwhile, despite its strength in the consumer market, which, during the festive season, is a stronger driver than corporate sales, Hewlett-Packard’s shipments did not grow compared to last year’s figures.

Similarly Dell’s sales fell 21 per cent year-on-year, while Acer was down 11 per cent.

Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, commented on the figures: "Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by 'cannibalizing' PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs.

"Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC."

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