Lenovo now neck and neck with HP as PC market leader

Lenovo may – or may not – have knocked HP off its perch as the world’s top PC supplier, depending on which analyst firm you believe.

A new report from Gartner puts Lenovo in the top spot with 15.7 percent of shipments, with HP just behind at 15.5 percent.

However, a simultaneous report from IDC has the positions reversed, with HP hanging on by a thread to the market leading position with 15.9 percent and Lenovo trailing slightly with 15.7 percent.

HP had held the lead since 2006, but has been hit by a series of management and strategy changes, as well as a market shift from PCs to tablet devices. Lenovo, meanwhile, is performing strongly in developing markets such as China.

What the two analysts do agree on, though, is that the total PC market has plunged far more than anyone was expecting. According to Gartner, they’re down 8.3 percent from a year ago; 8.6 percent according to IDC.

“PCs are going through a severe slump. The industry had already weathered a rough second quarter, and now the third quarter was even worse,” says Jay Chou, an IDC senior research analyst.

“A weak global economy as well as questions about PC market saturation and delayed replacement cycles are certainly a factor, but the hard question of what is the ‘it’ product for PCs remain unanswered. While ultrabook prices have come down a little, there are still some significant challenges that will greet Windows 8 in the coming quarter.”

As for the US market, that too came in below expectations, shrinking by 12.4 percent, according to IDC, and by 13.8 percent according to Gartner. This is down to  weaker consumer demand, says IDC, including a weak back-to-school season, an industry-wide inventory clean up, and a rush to buy tablets instead.

Things should, though, improve, according to both analyst firms, and the market return to positive growth by the end of this year.