A report Monday by research firm Gartner reveals that U.S. Mac shipments overall rose during the fourth quarter of 2012, even though a report earlier in the month from IDC showed Apple’s fourth quarter Mac sales down 0.2 percent.
A third report from early January by NPD claims that portable MacBook sales were down. If both the NPD and Gartner estimates are accurate, it points to strong sales of Apple desktops that compensate for the decline in MacBook sales for quarter.
According to Gartner’s research, U.S. shipments of Apple computers (including both desktops and laptops), rose 5.4 percent during the fourth quarter, to take 12.3 percent of the overall fourth quarter market share with about 2,145,000 shipments. In the same quarter last year, Apple shipped 2,035,000 units to take 11.4 percent of the fourth quarter 2011 U.S. market.
Other strong performances came from HP, which grew 12.6 percent to take 26.6 percent of the quarterly market, Acer, which grew 21.6 percent to reach 7.9 percent overall, and Lenovo, with 9.7 percent growth to reach 8.4 percent market share.
Conversely, IDC’s numbers from last week show Apple down 0.2 percent, Dell down 16.6 percent, HP up 12.4 percent, Toshiba down 33.9 percent, and “Others” down 3.6 percent.
Gartner estimated that the U.S. PC industry fell 2.1 percent for the quarter, with about 375,000 fewer shipments, while IDC reported a decrease of 4.5 percent overall, with about 828,000 fewer shipments.
While some computer makers posted strong quarters that outpaced Apple, the Cupertino company held its own against the market overall, and outperformed most PC-based competitors. Another factor not revealed by either the Gartner or IDC report is international market share, where Apple computers remain a significantly smaller portion of the market than in the United States.
Further good news for Apple is the fact that tablet sales, led by the iPad, are likely a major factor in the overall PC market decline. As explained by Mikako Kitagawa, principle analyst at Gartner:
Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalizing’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs. Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC.
There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm. Therefore, we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet.