PC Shipments Dim As Tablets Shine

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - According to the numbers, 2012 was not a great year for PCs running Microsoft ( MSFT) Windows. But it was a very good year for tablets.

The experts at Gartner have just released their latest numbers which show that in the fourth quarter of last year, PC shipments are down 2.1% in the United States and nearly 5% worldwide, year over year.

According to the preliminary numbers, Lenovo and Asus had very good quarters. Now no.2, Lenovo shipments were up 8.2% compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, while Asus shipments were up a slightly more modest 6.4%. But others didn't fare nearly as well.

While back in first place overall, Hewlett Packard ( HPQ) shipments were down 0.5%, Acer down 11% and Dell ( DELL) dropped a whopping 20.9% These numbers include desktop PCs, mobile computers (laptops/notebooks) and mini-notebooks, but not tablets.

Gartner explains it all this way:

"During the holiday season, consumers no longer viewed PCs as the number one gift item," the tech research firm wrote. "Given a burgeoning variety of increasingly more attractive devices and services, consumers directed their attention elsewhere. Analysts said there was uptake of very low priced notebooks as a part of mega holiday deals, but this uptake did little to boost holiday PC sales".

What makes the numbers even more interesting is that Microsoft's fourth-quarter release of Windows 8, which was supposed to help manufacturers with a much-needed year-end boost did nothing to help most manufacturers' bottom lines.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.