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HP elbows Apple off global PC throne

Just 40,000 sales separate tech titans in Q1

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Apple's rise to the summit of the global personal computer market at the end of last year was short lived: HP has regained the top spot in Q1, Canalys figures reveal.

A total of 107 million PCs were shipped in the quarter, up 21 per cent. HP, which ceded leadership to the Foxconn-rebrander in Q4, sold 40,000 more units than Apple's 15.8 million (11.8m iPads) in Q1.

Lenovo gained the third spot with 50 per cent unit growth. Acer and Dell ended up in the fourth and fifth positions respectively, but both posted declining sales.

Fondleslabs accounted for one fifth of all PCs sold, growing 200 per cent year-on-year, but traditional form factors were also on the up: notebook and desktop shipments rose 11 per cent and eight per cent respectively.

The one-time high flying netbook platform continued the fall from grace for the sixth consecutive quarter, dropping 34 per cent in Q1.

Tom Evans, research analyst at Canalys, said most of the major vendors have made a "reasonable" stab of offsetting declines in netbook sales with tablets, but were still not in a position to challenge Apple and Amazon.

"The challenge is breaking out into the really big volumes to challenge the leaders," he said. "So far, only Samsung has shown it can routinely ship more than a million pads a quarter."

It is worth noting however that even Samsung admitted several months ago that its slate cash haul was disappointing.

"Honestly, we're not doing very well in the tablet market," product strategy exec Hankil Yoon told Mobile World Congress in February.

Split by region, overall PC shipments grew 31 per cent in North America but more modestly in EMEA and Asia Pacific, where sales were up 19 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

Despite signs of life in the market during Q1, Canalys warned of ongoing uncertainty in 2012.

"Turbulence in the economy means the consumer market in many countries remains a cause for concern. Q2 is expected to be soft, with Taiwanese ODMs having reported a decline in shipments in April," it said.

Intel's Ivy Bridge chips may spur demand, once the channel clears stock based on previous processor generations, at least that is the hope according to the analyst.

But Canalys pinned more hope of a recovery on the launch of Windows 8.

"This will lead many consumers to delay new PC purchases into Q4. But by then thin and light laptops will be approaching mainstream price points, and a new wave of pads, based on Microsoft's new OS, will be hitting the market," said the analyst. ®

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