The PC market continues to be in free fall, having now seen its seventh consecutive quarter of declining worldwide shipments. Worldwide PC shipments dropped to 82.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to Gartner, a 6.9 percent decrease from the same period last year.

It’s worth emphasizing that this past quarter resulted in a total of 315.9 million units shipped in 2013, a 10 percent decline from 2012, and the worst decline in PC market history. The overall shipment level was equal to the one in 2009.

While Lenovo and Dell managed to grow their respective shares in Q4, this was not enough to offset the losses seen by HP, Acer, Asus, and the rest of the market:

gartner pc q4 2013 Gartner: PC shipments slip 6.9% to 82.6m units in Q4, as 2013 sees the worst yearly decline in history

Lenovo managed to extend the lead it has had over HP for the last two quarters, with 1.7 percentage points now separating the two. Gartner found Lenovo showed strong growth in all regions, except for Asia/Pacific, where China continued to be a problematic country for the company.

The holiday season didn’t go so well for HP, which failed to win back its previous lead, although it wasn’t the biggest loser by a long shot. It’s not clear how quickly the company will be able to recover from its holiday losses, but it needs to act quickly as first place isn’t the only position that it will lose.

Meanwhile, Dell was the only other vendor to gain share, although Lenovo’s gains were still slightly greater. It maintained the third position during a key period: as the company went private, it promised to focus not just on its traditional strength in the professional PC market but on consumer PCs, particularly in emerging markets.

Acer and Asus both saw double-digit declines, although their respective rankings remained unchanged compared with a year ago. Gartner noted their results should be expected, as both companies have put more focus on tablets, with PCs still being important but share gain no longer being a top priority.

In the US, PC shipments totaled 15.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2013, a 7.5 percent decline from the same period last year. While Apple was the only company to lose share in Q3, it dominated in Q4.

gartner pc us q4 2013 Gartner: PC shipments slip 6.9% to 82.6m units in Q4, as 2013 sees the worst yearly decline in history

While these results are preliminary, as Gartner is merely offering its estimates, the reason for these poor sales is hardly a mystery: tablets are to blame. The firm noted that Android-based devices were especially popular as a holiday present, particularly due to their falling average selling prices.

Update: IDC today also released its fourth quarter estimates, with worldwide PC shipments totaling 82.2 million units, down 5.6 percent year-over-year. Just like the previous quarter, IDC’s numbers are slightly better, but the trend is the same.

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