(Reuters) - Global PC shipments increased in the first quarter of 2012 as demand in Europe, Middle East and Africa was stronger than forecast on the back of robust demand by business, according to the research firm Gartner.
The results exceeded Gartner's earlier projections of a 1.2 percent decline for the quarter, the firm said on Wednesday, as global shipments grew to 89 million units in the first three months of the year.
PC shipments for businesses were above expectations across most countries, but consumer PC demand still varied greatly by country, Gartner said.
Shipments in Europe, Middle East and Africa were up 6.7 percent compared with a year earlier, while the Asia-Pacific region grew at just 2 percent as China ended a program that subsidized the cost of PCs in rural areas and India postponed a project by local governments to provide free laptops to students.
"While the PC industry has high expectations for strong growth in the emerging markets, the slowdown of these countries in this quarter provides a cautionary notice to vendors that the future growth for the PC industry cannot heavily depend on the emerging markets even though PC penetration in these regions is low," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said.
In the United States, PC shipments totaled 15.5 million units, down 3.5 percent, but less than the 6.1 percent decline Gartner had predicted.
Among the vendors Hewlett Packard held on to its No. 1 position with 3.5 percent growth in shipments and a global market share of 17.2 percent.
Chinese rival Lenovo again showed the strongest growth among vendors with a surge in shipments of 28.1 percent and was gaining on HP with a market share of 13.1 percent.
Kitagawa said demand would pick up somewhat in the course of the year after the release of Intel's Ivy Bridge and Microsoft's Windows 8, but cautioned the new products would not stimulate demand as much as the industry hoped.
(Reporting By Nicola Leske; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)