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Tabs Save Dying PC's

By Oonagh Reidy | Tuesday | 04/02/2014

Tabs pulled Pc industry back from the brink in Q4

PC market grew 18% in Q4 last, due  only to surge for iPad, Samsung Tab & Co during the holidays, analysts Canalys said today. 

"Weak" demand for Microsoft Windows 8 failed to lift notebook and desktops, which fell 7%, with demand for older Windows 7 enjoying a resurge as businesses seek to replace (soon-to-expire) Windows XP. 

Demand for tablets like iPad, and Samsung Tab grew 65% on q4 2012 to 76.3 million, accounting for almost half the PC market. 

Excluding tablets, demand for notebooks and desktops declined 7% in 12 months. Demand fell in all regions. 

Apple was PC king in the period October-December , shipping 31 million iPads, Macs. 

It accounts for one in 5 of all PCs sold. 

Apple's share of the tablet market increased to 34%, + 7% on Q3 with the launch of the iPad Air and mini with Retina providing a "much needed boost."

But competition is mounting and Android tablets are falling in price, which will put pressure on iPad in 2014, analysts warn. 

Samsung with Galaxy Tabs and Note was No. 2 in the tablet race, and No. 3 in Pc's overall (tablets accounted for 80% of Samsung PCs). 

Similar to the phone market, Apple and Samsung combined accounted for over half all tablets shipped.

 But Samsung's growth came at a price, and had to resort to significant promotional activity to run down inventory, note analysts. 

"Android is now the most popular OS in the tablet segment and PC vendors are showing a keen interest in Chromebooks, which are carving out a niche, especially in the education sector," said Pin Chen Tang, Research Analyst.

'Consumers are becoming more open to Windows alternatives, and Google's low-cost options are reaping the rewards,' 

Lenovo secured an 12% share in the PC market, No.2 player overall, behind Apple. 

The ThinkPad maker who are stronger in notebook and laptop markets are world's No. 1 PC maker excluding tablets, according to Gartner.  

PC shipments increased 25% year-on-year, although its core Chinese market, declined over 10%. EMEA where shipments grew one third. 

The Chinese giant was early to embrace Android as a tablet OS, while rivals HP and Dell waited for Windows 8, and their tablet and notebook  strategy has now paid off. 

'Lenovo still has the potential to grow its global notebook shipments and has emerged as a challenger in the tablet space,' said James Wang, Analyst. 

'Worldwide, Lenovo shipped three times as many tablets in Q4 as HP and Dell combined, or two and a half times when excluding China.'

Windows 7 or 8? 

Demand for PCs is lifting as businesses migrate from Windows XP. But Windows 8 will not be a major beneficiary as many will opt for safer Windows 7, as Microsoft touch screen OS fails to charm enterprise users, Canalys warns. 

Windows 8 uptake remains weak and the PC refresh cycle shows no sign of returning, bad news for all PC giants including HP, Dell and Acer. HP, recently opted to push Windows 7 PC's over 8, due to "popular demand". 

With Windows 9 reported to be scheduled for an April 2015 release, Microsoft risks losing momentum unless it does something drastic to turn its Windows business around, say analysts. 

This provides an opportunity for vendors with strong enterprise sales and an established B2B channel in 2014, but PC makers heavily exposed to the consumer notebook market face an uncertain future.

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