HP Loses Ground to Lenovo in PC Sales, Apple's Numbers Foggy

Just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, you shouldn't judge an analyst report by its headline, or you could miss out on some juicy tidbits inside. Case in point: both IDC and Gartner released reports yesterday proclaiming that second-quarter PC shipments were flat compared to last year. (The figures don't include tablets.) Ho-hum. But if you take the time to dig a little deeper, the raw numbers show that Apple's shipments are shrouded in confusion -- and that HP is in danger of losing its long-held No. 1 worldwide spot to Lenovo.

Both analytical firms say that overall PC shipments declined by 0.1 percent compared to the second quarter of 2011, but the fine details vary a bit between the two reports. Each pegs Lenovo's global shipments at only a few hundred thousand behind HP's pole position, however: Gartner estimates HP's shipments at 13.0 million and Lenovo's at 12.8 million -- a market share difference of two-tenths of a single percent. IDC's numbers place Lenovo at roughly 650,000 shipments behind HP.

Lenovo's rise is due to a steep increase in global shipments over the past year combined with a roughly 12 percent decline in HP shipments in the same time frame.  Lenovo isn't the only OEM surging in recent months; Asus has seen its shipments increase by a whopping 39 percent over the past year on the back of strong sales in Europe and Asia.

Things are a bit different domestically, where Lenovo lands in the fourth slot behind HP, Dell and Apple, respectively. Actually, Apple's shipment numbers show why you need to take analyst estimates as just that: estimates or guideposts, rather than rock-solid facts. IDC has the Cupertino company's PC shipments dropping by roughly 200,000 over the past year -- a 1.1 percent decline -- while Gartner's figures peg Apple shipments as increasing by 4.3 percent with a 800,000 unit increase in the same time frame.

That's a difference of 1,000,000 desktops and laptops! Where does the truth lie? We won't know for sure until Apple releases its own quarterly figures later.

Via IDC and Gartner