After six months of increases, global sales of personal computers totalled 92.2 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 1.4 decline increase from the same period last year according to a recent report from Gartner.

The research firm says weakening demand for computers among consumers, caused by economic uncertainty, was the primary reason for the decline.

Gartner says the hard-disk drive (HDD) shortages triggered by the October 2011 floods in Thailand had only a limited impact on fourth-quarter PC shipments and prices. However, the analysts said the floods will have a significant negative impact on PC sales in the first half of 2012 and potentially continue throughout the second half 2012.

The top seller in the quarter was Hewlett Packard which garnered at 16.0% market share by selling 14.7 million units. Lenovo experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors, as its PC shipments grew 23 percent to 12.9 million units (a 14% market share) in the fourth quarter of 2011, and it further cemented its place as the No. 2 vendor in global PC shipments. The company’s growth was attributed to its aggressive pricing in both the professional and consumer markets.

Rounding out the top five were Dell (11.6 million units sold and 12.6% market share), Acer (9.8 million/10.7% market share) and Asus (6.2 million/6.8% market share). The five top Global PC vendors accounted for 60% of sales during the fourth quarter of 2011, the same share as the final quarter of 2010.

In the U.S., PC shipments were even weaker in the final quarter, declining 5.9% from the same period a year earlier. Gartner says consumers’ attention was diverted toward other product categories, especially smartphones and media tablets. All-in-one (AIO) desktop PCs drew consumers’ attention during the holiday season. The main attractions were large screen sizes and high-definition viewing capability.

Overall 2011 Sales

Gartner also published preliminary estimates for overall PC sales 2011. The company estimates Global PC sales, which includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad, of 352.8 million units, up 0.5% from the 350.9 million units sold in 2010.

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