US holiday Mac sales rose as PC shipments fell

Apple store holiday 2012 banner (MacBook Pro)

Apple Mac holiday sales in the US rose by 5.4 percent, countering the PC industry’s overall 2.1 percent decline. The new numbers by research giant Gartner indicate Apple shipped 2.1 million Macs during the fourth quarter, up from two million for the same period in 2011. Meanwhile, pretty much every other vendor experienced a decline, with Dell reporting an abysmal sixteen percent decline.

Dell’s US market share slid to 19.2 percent, down from 22.5 percent in 2011. All told, Apple now holds a 12.3 percent share of the US PC market, up from 11.4 percent last year, putting the company in the No. 3 spot, right behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell. PC vendors are now seeing US households letting the computers “age out” as they increasingly use tablets like the iPad for common tasks such as e-mail and web surfing…

Per data, only No. 1 PC maker HP saw its share of the domestic market increase more than a single percentage point. The computer maker grew by 12.6 percent during the fourth quarter, claiming 26.6 percent of the US market, up from 23.1 percent a year ago.

Important: Gartner numbers are based on the shipments selling into channels and include desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad.


If you added the iPad, Apple would easily emerge as the leading PC manufacturer worldwide. Fortune relays the analysts’ forecasts for Q4 2012 Mac sales ranging from 4.45 million to 6.5 million (median estimate: 5.2 million).

Here’s Gartner’s US chart.

Gartner (Q412 preliminary US PC shipments)
Preliminary Q4 2012 US PC vendor unit shipment estimates. Source: Gartner (January 2013).

Despite seeing shipments rise 21.6 percent, Acer’s domestic market share fell to 7.9 percent, down from 9.8 percent, according to Gartner.

Last week, Gartner rival IDC announced Mac sales during the holiday period declined 0.2 percent compared to the same quarter in 2011. IDC also said US Mac sales hovered around 2 million units for an 11.4 percent share of the domestic market.

Mac (image 001)

Gartner became the latest research firm to confirm US computing habits have swung from the PC to tablets. Saying “tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs,” analyst Mikako Kitagawa found computer owners are now turning to tablets rather than replacing old PCs.

Gartner (Q412 preliminary worldwide PC shipments)
Preliminary Q4 2012 global PC vendor unit shipment estimates. Source: Gartner (January 2013).

Blame the overall sales slump on the tablet, Gartner writes:

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.

Independent analyst Horace Dediu in a chart below combined Gartner’s preliminary PS shipment data with his own tablet estimates.

Asmyco (Gartner Q412 preliminary PC shipments plus tablet estimates)

The Gartner analyst called consumers who retain both a tablet and PC the “exception and not the norm”. Rather than replace PCs, US households will instead let the computers “age out”, using tablets for common tasks such as e-mail and web surfing.

Mac (image 004)

Kitagawa’s comments mesh those made recently suggesting tablet sales by 2015 will outpace PCs.

Is that happening right now?

Do you give your Mac less love now that your iPad easily handles most common tasks, like updating your social networks, surfing the web, reading news and what not?