The PC market ain’t what it used to be. Both Gartner and IDC released their preliminary estimates on the state of the PC market in the second quarter, and the results are mostly uninspiring.

Both researchers pegged the overall PC market at relatively flat, decreasing just 0.1% in total to about 87 million units, give or take half a million or so, depending on who you ask. Although, within the ranks, there was a notable amount of shuffling, with players from the Far East growing market share at the expense of their stateside counterparts.

Show me your digits
(Nasdaq: DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) both ceded some of their worldwide pie slices to the likes of Lenovo, Acer, and Asus. Here are Gartner’s estimates.

Company Q2 2012 Units Q2 2012 Market Share Q2 2011 Units Q2 2011 Market Share
HP 13 million 14.9% 14.8 million 16.9%
Lenovo 12.8 million 14.7% 11.1 million 12.7%
Acer 9.6 million 11% 9.3 million 10.6%
Dell 9.3 million 10.7% 10.6 million 12.1%
Asus 6.1 million 7% 4.4 million 5%
Worldwide PC shipments. Source: Gartner (July 2012).

For comparison, here are IDC’s digits.

Company Q2 2012 Units Q2 2012 Market Share Q2 2011 Units Q2 2011 Market Share
HP 13.4 million 15.5% 15.3 million 17.6%
Lenovo 12.9 million 14.9% 10.3 million 11.9%
Dell 9.6 million 11.1% 10.9 million 12.6%
Acer 9 million 10.4% 9 million 10.3%
Asus 6.1 million 7.1% 4.4 million 5%

Worldwide PC shipments. Source: IDC (July 2012).

In both cases, the broad "others" category actually comprises more than 40% of the market. While there are some minor discrepancies between the data sets, they’re mostly consistent, and paint the same picture of domestic players declining, while Asian players gain. HP still claims top dog status, but it’s losing its lead quickly, as Lenovo closes the gap.

It’s a wonder why TV maker Vizio just jumped into this cutthroat, commoditized market. What’s not a wonder is why HP and Dell continue to try and broaden their horizons and expand more heavily into software and services.

Home court iAdvantage
The domestic picture is a little different. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) was the winner in the U.S. PC market. The Mac maker grew its market share by both accounts, and sits near 12% of the domestic market. Apple has been outpacing the broader PC market for years, and this quarter was no different.

Both market researchers estimated that the domestic PC market shrank to 15.9 million units in the second quarter. It’s worth noting that none of these figures include tablet shipments like the iPad, and some could argue that tablets, in general, qualify as PCs. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) certainly considers tablets in the same category as PCs.

Because the software giant has yet to release its tablet-bound Windows 8, the PC figures don’t foreshadow a whole lot of upside for Microsoft or for Intel (Nasdaq: INTC). Even with Intel’s big Ultrabook push, PC shipments haven’t really gone anywhere. Both Gartner and IDC noted that Ultrabooks had little impact on the market, despite high expectations.

Hurry up, Windows 8
Following up the figures, analysts aren’t sweating the soft PC numbers, saying that the next big catalyst will be Windows 8, which is due out in a matter of months. Still, the bigger picture storyline at play here is tablets beginning to disrupt PC sales.

On one hand, this is precisely why Microsoft critically needs Windows 8 to succeed. The operating system will straddle the line between tablets and PCs, with one market booming with growth while the other languishes. The OS will also be Intel’s entry into tablets, as it’s just now making its way into smartphones.

For Wintel, Windows 8 can’t get here soon enough.

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