WASHINGTON - Worldwide shipments of personal computers grew by just 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter compared with a year ago, the worst growth rate since 2002, market research firm Gartner reported Wednesday.
Citing preliminary figures, Gartner said global PC shipments totaled 78.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2008.
"The United States experienced steeper than expected shipment declines due to the recession," said Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group.
"The Europe, Middle East and Africa region was also affected by the economic slowdown across key countries," she said. "Asia/Pacific recorded the worst shipment growth since Gartner started its PC statistics research.
"Latin America met expectations," she added, "but its growth was much lower than in the past."
Gartner said US computer giant Hewlett-Packard managed to grow above the worldwide average in the fourth quarter with shipments of 14.9 million units, thus earning a market share of 19.1 percent, up from 18.7 percent a year ago.
"However (HP's) year-on-year growth was its lowest since its merger with Compaq in 2003," Gartner said.
Dell Inc. held on to its number two spot with shipments of 10.3 million units, giving it a 13.2 percent market share, down from 14.2 percent a year ago.
Taiwan's Acer was third with shipments of 9.6 million units, with a market share of 12.3 percent compared with 9.5 percent a year ago.
China's Lenovo was next with shipments of 5.5 million units followed by Toshiba with 3.6 million units.
Gartner said Acer recorded exceptional growth in the fourth quarter with worldwide PC shipments growing by 31.1 percent. Acer's sales were driven by low priced PCs such as mini-notebooks, he argued.
PC shipments in the United States declined by 10 percent in the fourth quarter, the steepest drop since the last US recession in 2001, according to Gartner.
Worldwide PC shipments totaled 302.2 million units in 2008, up 10.9 percent from 2007, Gartner added.
Hewlett-Packard shipped a total of 55.68 million units, followed by Dell (43.1 million), Acer (33.5 million), Lenovo (21.8 million) and Toshiba (13.5 million).