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Will PC sales ever pick up? Lenovo presides over industry's longest slump

Will PC sales ever pick up? Lenovo presides over industry's longest slump


Google Chromebooks seem to be a bright spot, but only if you're squinting

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The PC industry has been unwell for a long time. But the true extent of its decline from the go-go 1990s and early 2000s has scarcely seemed as bad as it does today, in Gartner's latest quarterly shipment estimates for the second quarter of 2013. The market analysis firm recorded a drop of 10.9 percent in global PC shipments from this time last year, to 76 million total units, with all regions showing a decline from 2012. Worse still, this was the fifth consecutive quarter of declining shipments, which as Gartner notes, is "the longest duration of decline in the PC market’s history."

Acer shipments fell over 35 percent

The biggest losers in terms of individual PC companies were Acer, which saw its own shipments fall over 35 percent, while rival ASUS also suffered a 20.5 percent drop. Lenovo retook the title of global leader at 16.7 percent market share, narrowly edging out HP's 16.3 percent, but both companies saw total shipments decline 0.6 percent and 4.8 percent respectively. More broadly speaking, the news is grim for Microsoft and Windows 8, which powers many new flagship PCs and clearly has not been enticing enough to forestall a decline and shift in computing to mobile devies (Gartner's data notably includes x86 tablets running Windows 8).

But there is some good news for certain PCs in the US. A separate survey of the American market by the NPD group found that the cheaper end of Google's Chromebook lineup, namely the $199 Acer C7 and $249 Samsung Chromebook Series 3, have snapped up 25 percent of the under-$300 laptop market, as Bloomberg notes. Of course, that's an extremely niche category: the average cost of Windows laptops has hovered around $500 since 2010, according to NPD. But the agency notes that the under $300 category is only poised for further growth. While that may not help the Chromebook Pixel much, it is good news for Google's web-based Chrome OS, which has been knocked many times by many people for its lack of support for much common PC software. With the rest of the PC industry lagging, that fact may not mean as much anymore.