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Third-Quarter U.S. PC Shipments Show Some Strength

NEW YORK — PC shipments during the back-to-school selling season, also known as the third quarter, showed some signs of life in the U.S.

The research firms IDC and Gartner each had PC shipments in the U.S. market higher — up from basically flat, according to IDC, to up 3.5 percent, according to Gartner. The latter company noted that this uptick marked the second consecutive quarter of increases following a string of six quarters of decreases.

For the most part, this increase was attributed to added corporate spending, due to Microsoft’s plan to no longer support Windows XP next year. Other factors included the introduction of Intel’s Haswell processor and new form factors, such as laptop/tablet hybrids and ultra-thin and light models.

Overall for the quarter, IDC reported U.S. PC shipments of 16.4 million, while Gartner marked them at 16.1 million. The discrepancy between the two companies is due to slightly different tracking methodology.

Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said the 2013 third quarter was artificially inflated somewhat due to inventory control issues that were in place for the Windows 8 launch last year, but she also noted that the growth this fall could be an indicator that PC shipment declines in the U.S. are past their worst stage.

“Tablets will continue to impact the PC market, but the U.S. PC market will see a more moderate decrease rather than a steep decline in the next two years,” she said.

However, growth will remain limited. Loren Loverde, VP, worldwide PC tracker, said, “Whether constrained by a weak economy or being selective in their tech investments, buyers continue to evaluate options and delay PC replacements. Despite being a little ahead of forecast, and the work that’s being done on new designs and integration of features like touch, the third-quarter results suggest that there’s still a high probability that we will see another decline in worldwide shipments in 2014.”

Hewlett-Packard remained the shipping leader in the U.S. with about 27 percent of the market on 4.4 million units shipped, a 4.5 percent increase over the same period last year. Dell was a strong second place finisher, pushing out about 3.4 million units for 21 percent of the market, up 3.3 percent year over year. Third-place Apple was the lone vendor among the top five to suffer an, albeit slight, falloff, shipping 2.3 percent few PCs (2.1 million) than the previous year.

Conversely, Lenovo strengthened its hold on fourth place, with a huge 24.6 percent increase in shipments to 1.7 million, giving the company between 8.3 percent and 8.7 percent of the market. Toshiba also had a healthy quarter, with shipments increasing about 14 percent to 1.2 million.