SAN FRANCISCO — Personal-computer shipments fell 10 percent in 2013, marking the worst-ever decline after lackluster holiday sales underscored how consumers and businesses are moving away from desktops and notebooks to mobile devices.
Manufacturers shipped 315.9 million units, returning to 2009 levels and making it the “worst decline in PC market history,” researcher Gartner Inc. said in a statement Thursday. Global sales fell 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter – the seventh straight drop – to 82.6 million units.
More computing tasks are moving to websites and applications tailored for smartphones and tablets, rather than software installed on laptops and desktops. Buyers in emerging markets are snapping up wireless devices, indicating slower adoption of PCs in the future, according to Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner.
“Consumer spending during the holidays did not come back to PCs as tablets were one of the hottest holiday items,” Kitagawa said. “In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet.”
The PC market has in turn become characterized by companies replacing existing machines, driven by Microsoft’s plan to end support for its 13-year-old Windows XP operating system in April, compelling businesses to upgrade to newer versions, which in turn spurs PC buying.
Lenovo, which is based in China but has a headquarters in Morrisville that employs about 2,000 workers, maintained the No. 1 spot worldwide with 18.1 percent market share in the fourth quarter, helped by a 6.6 percent increase in shipments. Hewlett-Packard was second with a 16.4 percent share as shipments declined 7.2 percent. Dell was third, Gartner said.
U.S. shipments shrank 7.5 percent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter.