The contention that market share stats do not matter to vendors was obliterated last night as HP moved to publicly rubbish figures suggesting it has lost its PC market throne.
Market analysts Gartner and IDC both released their preliminary Q3 PC figures last night, with the former's numbers suggesting that long-time leader HP has been ousted by China-based rival Lenovo.
IDC, however, still had HP in a narrow lead, estimating that the vendor shipped 13.9 million PCs in the three months to 30 September to Lenovo's 13.8 million.
Both analysts were in grim agreement over the rate of the market's decline, with IDC pegging units sales at down 8.6 per cent on last year, compared with Gartner at 8.3 per cent.
HP's commitment to the PC space has been questioned in recent times following last year's decision to moot a sale of its PSG arm. But it appears the vendor still wants to be seen as the silverback of the space after it took the unusual step of siding with one analyst over another.
"While there are a variety of PC share reports in the market, some do not measure the market in its entirety," HP said in a statement.
"The IDC analysis includes the very important workstation segment and therefore is more comprehensive. In that IDC report, HP occupies the number-one position in PCs."
Either way, both analysts' figures underline Lenovo's remarkable rise from an outsider barely bothering the top five, to market kingpin, in the space of a few years.
According to IDC, Lenovo grew Q3 shipments 13.1 per cent to 13.8 million. Third-placed Dell and fourth-placed Acer both saw unit shipments fall, the former by 14 per cent.
IDC said it had anticipated a quiet quarter, as channels braced themselves for Windows 8.
Jay Chou, IDC's senior research analyst, worldwide PC tracker, said PCs were going through a "severe slump".
"The industry had already weathered a rough second quarter, and now the third quarter was even worse," he said.
"A weak global economy as well as questions about PC market saturation and delayed replacement cycles are certainly a factor, but the hard question of what is the 'it' product for PCs remains unanswered. While ultrabook prices have come down a little, there are still some significant challenges that will greet Windows 8 in the coming quarter."
Lenovo chief executive Yuanqing Yang weclomed the news that his firm may now be the world's leading PC maker, and aserted that "there is room for continued profitable growth in this space". But Yang outlined that the Chinese vendor has its sights set higher than just the client compute market.
"Becoming the clear leader in global PC share of course remains one of Lenovo's aspirations, but it also only represents one more milestone in our journey as a company and our mission to become the leader in the 'PC+' era," he explained.
"This includes PCs, tablets, smartphone, smart TV, cloud and enterprise computing. Our goal is to make Lenovo not only a leading PC+ brand, but also one of the most respected companies in the world."
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