Professional PC shipments laugh in the face of tablets -

Worldwide PC shipments in Q4 2010 grew 3.1 percent to 93.5 million units, while year-end shipments increased by 13.8 percent.

However, Gartner says that these figures were below earlier forecasts of  4.8 percent growth for the quarter.

The findings match those by research firm Context, which this week released a report showing unit sales of PCs in Western Europe through all major distribution channels rose by 12.2 percent overall last year, despite a less than impressive fourth quarter with sales advancing only 3.2 percent as compared with Q4 2009.

It said this was down to a challenging economic environment.

However, Gartner puts low sales down to "the intensifying competition in consumer spending".

It said that media tablets such as the iPad all competed against PCs, causing sales figures to slump lower than expected.

However, there is a silver lining with the PC market seeing a steady growth in the professional market driven by replacement purchases. For all 2010, the results also indicated that the PC market had recovered from the recession, as it returned to double-digit growth, compared to low single-digit growth in 2009.

Gartner warns that the PC market isn't quite yet out of the woods. It will face challenges with increased, intensified competition among consumer spending.

HP maintained the number one position in worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2010, but its shipment growth was below the worldwide average. It was predicted that HP’s professional business had solid growth, but Gartner said this in the end was offset by a weak consumer PC business in the US.

That said HP did manage to claw back some success in the EMEA professional and consumer markets, while still facing challenges in the Asia/Pacific region.

Acer also faced challenges in the fourth quarter of 2010 due to a slowdown in the overall consumer mobile PC market. The company was impacted by a weakening mini-notebook segment and due to a lower presence in the professional PC market, Acer could not benefit from the professional PC refresh demand.

Dell on the other hand had some success with the professional PC refresh market and its shipment growth was better than regional averages across most regions, while
Lenovo marked the strongest year-on-year growth among the top five vendors thanks to the  replacement purchases in the professional PC market, as well as its ongoing efforts of getting into the consumer market.