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Apple's Mac shipments decline in U.S. as PC market slows

Unit shipments are in thousands. | Source: IDC

Preliminary PC shipment estimates released on Thursday from market research firm IDC show an overall contraction of 4.5 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2012, and Apple followed suit with a 0.2 percent negative growth rate.

According to IDC's quarterly estimates, Apple shipped roughly 2.03 million Macs over the three-month period ending in December, just 3,000 units shy of last year's performance. Despite showing negative growth in quarter four, Apple managed to gain market share over other PC vendors like Toshiba, which took huge hits over the same period.

It can be speculated that rollout issues with the newly redesigned iMac are to blame for Apple's slip into the red, with the all-in-ones still in short supply more than a month after being launched at the end of November.

Overall, U.S. PC shipments fell to 17.75 million from 18.6 million a year ago, representing a negative growth rate of 4.5 percent.

"Although the third quarter was focused on the clearing of Windows 7 inventory, preliminary research indicates the clearance did not significantly boost the uptake of Windows 8 systems in Q4," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. "Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience. As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as Ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013."

Once again, HP held on to the top spot, bucking the downward trend to gain 12.4 percent for the quarter on shipments nearing 4.8 million units. The company now accounts for 27 percent of the U.S. market. In the No. 2 spot was Dell, which suffered a hefty 16.6 percent year-to-year loss on slightly less than 3.5 million shipped units, dropping its share of the market down to 19.6 percent.

Apple retained its third place ranking well behind Dell with a 11.4 percent market share for quarter four, but was ahead of both Lenovo and Toshiba. Aside from HP, Lenovo was the only major vendor to show year-over-year growth, gaining 11.6 percent in the last quarter of 2012. The company trailed Apple by some 500,000 shipped units, but rocketed past Toshiba which suffered a massive decline, posting 33.9 percent negative growth. For the fourth quarter, Toshiba saw 1.26 million PCs shipped, a drop of almost 650,000 units from last year. The company's U.S. market share fell from 10.2 percent to 7.1 percent.