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Lenovo And Dell Seeing PC Growth In U.S., But CPU Shortage Takes A Toll On Overall Market

U.S. PC shipments dropped overall amid market uncertainties and the ongoing CPU shortage, Gartner reports.

Lenovo's resurgence in the U.S. PC market continued during the final quarter of 2018 with gains in both shipments and market share, while Dell also saw growth in the fourth quarter in spite of supply chain and market challenges, according to research firm Gartner.

It marked the third quarter in a row that Lenovo enjoyed strong growth in the U.S. PC market, solidifying the company's position as the No. 3 player in the market ahead of Apple and Microsoft--but still trailing well behind HP Inc. and Dell.

[Related: CES 2019: Lenovo Unveils Six Devices, Including New X1 Carbon And A 43-Inch Monitor]

However, overall PC shipments in the U.S. slid 4.5 percent during the fourth quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, Gartner reported.

In a news release, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa blamed the decline in part on market uncertainties--given that the quarter is "typically a buying season" for businesses looking to use up budget money by the end of the year.

Early indicators suggest that buyers in the small/home office and small business segments "held off on some new PC purchases due to uncertainties around the political and economic conditions," Kitagawa said.

Kitagawa also cited the ongoing shortage of CPUs, which "affected vendors’ ability to fulfill demand created by business PC upgrades." Intel's CPU shortage has been impacting PC shipments since at least September.

"We expect this demand will be pushed forward into 2019 if CPU availability improves," Kitagawa said in the news release.

Lenovo still managed to pull off significant growth during the quarter, though. Fourth-quarter unit sales for Lenovo rose 23.4 percent year over year, according to Gartner.

Along with a steady stream of product launches over the past year, Lenovo also rolled out an array of measures in the channel last year with the intent of spurring growth in the North American PC market.

"Our [customer] acquisition business in corporate is exceeding our expectations," said Matthew Zielinski, Lenovo's North America president for its PC and smart devices division, in an interview this week with CRN. "What we're finding out is, when people can try Lenovo products, they're buying them. So our acquisition engine is working."

Mark Sanchez, CEO of Loganville, Ga.-based CommQuest, which exclusively sells PCs from Lenovo, said the company is "seeing results" following the difficult transition that played out in 2017 and 2018. Channel program changes in the fall of 2017, for instance, delivered a hit to profitability for many Lenovo PC partners in the U.S.

But a change in leadership, including the arrival of Zielinski last February, has led to a focus on rebuilding trust with solution providers. That’s come in part through partner-friendly investments aimed at capturing share in the PC market.

"I'm just really pro-Lenovo. You can make money with the company. If you invest in them, they're investing in you," Sanchez said. "There just seems to be more opportunity with Lenovo, versus the others that I've investigated."

Q4 was less kind to market leader HP, which saw shipments decrease 7.6 percent, and No. 4 player Apple, which dropped 2.1 percent. Dell shipments increased 0.9 percent during the quarter.

Here are Gartner's U.S. PC market-share figures for the fourth quarter of 2018:

  • HP Inc.: Market share of 33.4 percent, down from 34.6 percent a year earlier
  • Dell: Market share of 25.7 percent, up from 24.3 percent a year earlier
  • Lenovo: Market share of 15.2 percent, up from 11.7 percent a year earlier
  • Apple: Market share of 12.4 percent, up from 12.1 percent a year earlier
  • Microsoft: Market share of 3.3 percent, down from 3.7 percent a year earlier
  • Acer: Market share of 3.2 percent, down from 4 percent a year earlier
  • Globally, the rankings differed dramatically during the fourth quarter, with Lenovo regaining the top spot—with 24.2 percent market share—thanks to a boost from taking a controlling stake in Fujitsu's PC business.

    HP fell to No. 2 globally with 22.4 percent share, while Dell placed third with 15.9 percent share. Apple came in fourth at 7.2 percent worldwide.

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