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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

July 12, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Gartner: PC sales decline; ultrabooks not helping

PC sales continue to be flat and ultrabooks — the super thin and light laptops that Intel, Microsoft and PC manufacturers have spent a good chunk of change promoting — don’t seem to be helping, according to research firm Gartner.

Worldwide shipments of PCs declined 0.1 percent in the second quarter of this year compared to the year-ago period. A total of 87.5 million PC units shipped in the second quarter this year, according to Gartner, which noted that it was the seventh consecutive quarter of flat to single-digit growth for PCs.

Furthermore, “despite the high expectations for the thin and light notebook segment, ultrabooks, shipment volume was small and (had) little impact on overall shipment growth,” Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in the news release.

She attributed the moribund market to economic uncertainty as well as decreased interest from consumers in PCs as they increasingly look to spending on smartphones and tablets.

“A big portion of R&D spending has been allocated to ultrabook development, together with Intel’s massive investments to establish the market segment,” Kitagawa said in the release. “Though utrabook was at first introduced in the market in 2011, the major promotion kicked off toward the end of 2Q12 with the IvyBridge, based Ultrabook release. This segment is still in an early adopter’s stage.”

Intel came up with the name “ultrabook” to designate a category of extremely thin, light and higher-end laptops that are designed to compete with Apple’s Macbook Air. The company spent millions getting manufacturers to produce ultrabooks and to aggressively promote the category. Microsoft and its PC manufacturing partners have been promoting it as well.

Here’s a chart from Gartner on PC shipments for 2Q 2012:

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