A new report from Canalys suggests global client PC shipments increased by 12 percent year-on-year during the second quarter of 2012. A growth in tablet sales appears to have made up for disappointing Ultrabook numbers, the firm said. Apple's iPad had the biggest impact on market growth for the quarter; however, Samsung and ASUS also saw increased sales figures. Tablet shipments increased by 75 percent overall and now accounted for 22 percent of all PCs sold during the second quarter.
"Reports that poor economic conditions and the wait for Windows 8 hurt the PC industry this quarter do not tell the whole story," said Canalys research analyst Tom Evans. "The PC industry is performing well and 2012 is shaping up to be a record year. Vendors with innovative products will reap the rewards."
Apple again took the market lead ahead of HP thanks to strong iPad sales, which helped the company secure approximately 19 percent of global PC shipments, up 59.6% from the firm's PC market share during the second quarter of last year. Apple last held the throne during the fourth quarter of last year.
"There is now a large base of replacement buyers that simply must have the latest Apple product, and the decision to continue shipping the iPad 2 at lower price points has opened up new customers, for example in education," Evans said. "One drawback of the stand-out retina display in the new iPad, however, is the increased storage demanded by HD content. An upgrade, without a big price increase, is a must for the next generation of product."
South Korea-based Samsung was the leading Android-powered tablet vendor during the second quarter. Samsung more than doubled its Galaxy Tab shipment figures from the same quarter last year. While Apple and Samsung continue to compete aggressively, the largest gains of the second quarter go to Taiwanese computer maker ASUS, following the release of its Transformer Pad 300. ASUS is now the world's third largest tablet vendor.
"Joining forces with Google to produce the sub-$200 Google Nexus 7 will further strengthen the role of Asus in this market," Canalys research analyst Pin Chen Tang said. "Amazon must now launch a more powerful replacement for the Kindle Fire, and expand internationally, or see its pad business fail."
The report estimates that Amazon's Kindle Fire shipments stumbled below 500,000 during the second quarter.
Windows PC shipments continue to slump ahead of Microsoft's Windows 8 launch, due this October. Intel-powered Ultrabooks have yet to reach a price point that appeals to the masses, which likely contributed to the reason why Microsoft's Windows market share fell to 73 percent, an all-time low. American chipmaker Intel's market share also fell to an all-time low of below 70 percent. Lenovo managed to make gains due to a strong showing in its native China and increased focus on emerging markets. Acer also saw improvements with boosts in markets in Russia, the U.K., and Germany. Canalys suspects that Acer's Olympics sponsorship will help build brand awareness, which could increase sales in the second half of the year.
HP's 12 percent market share fell 3.2 percentage points, making it the second largest PC vendor during the second quarter. The decision to merge its PC and printing divisions are believed to have affected its first half, but a Canalys survey among its partners revealed that the majority of HP's partners believe this decision will prove beneficial for the company in the long haul.
The wildcard of the PC industry's second quarter was Microsoft's decision to release its own Surface tablets. While Microsoft has yet to confirm pricing for the tablets, the latest details suggest that its planned price point could be too high to capture a significant market share.
"We expect the Surface pads to have a similar impact on the PC industry as the Zune did in portable music players," said Canalys analyst Tim Coulling. Ouch, that's a burn. Zune, if you're unaware, is now a discontinued music player.
Canalys advises that Microsoft's OEMs delay the releases of Windows RT tablets until Microsoft revises its licensing fees. "Microsoft has upset some partners by bringing its own hardware to market," Canalys VP and principal analyst Chris Jones said. "Marketing, distributing and servicing such hardware profitably is hard. Once the Surface makes a material dent in Microsoft's P&L, it will need to repair relationships with PC vendors, who are already preparing lists of demands."
Windows 8 is set to launch during the fourth quarter on October 26th, although it has already been released to manufacturing (RTM) and to developer partners. Canalys said Windows 8 users will need to buy PCs with touchscreens to reap the full benefits from the operating system. That, in turn, is expected to increase the cost of entry for the new OS. Worse, Canalys doesn't believe that the release of Windows 8 will be enough to help Microsoft recover from its current decline until around third quarter 2013.