PC sales declined for the first time in five years in the fourth quarter of 2012, despite the October release of Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 8, which was supposed to have stimulated a spike in PC and laptop sales.
According to figures from analysts IDC, global PC sales fell by 6.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, with third and fourth placed Dell and Acer hardest hit with falls of 20.8 per cent and 28.2 per cent respectively.
HP remained the world's biggest PC vendor, restricting its decline in sales to just 0.6 per cent, while Lenovo, which has been threatening to become the world's largest PC maker, increased sales by 8.2 per cent, but remains in second place.
According to IDC's figures, HP remains number one with a market share up at 16.7 per cent, selling just over 15 million PCs, while Lenovo's market share increased to 15.7 per cent, selling 14.1 million PCs and laptops.
For 2012 as a whole, HP remained market leader with a share down from 17.1 per cent in 2011 to 16.5 per cent in 2012 (58.13 million PCs and laptops sold); while Lenovo remained second, with a big increase in market share from 12.1 per cent to 14.9 per cent (52.45 million PCs and laptops sold).
"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 the fourth quarter," said Jay Chou, a senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.
He added: "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."
In other words, some of the benefits that Windows 8 might offer, such as fast booting and close-down times, more reliability and security, and improved PC performance, have been lost underneath the question marks raised over the clunky twin interfaces - not to mention Microsoft's attempts to promote it as a touch-friendly operating system for a range of devices.
PC sales last fell in 2008 as a result of the global financial crisis, which also saw a sharp and sudden decline in global trade.