Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Others Failed to Revitalize PC Sales

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From Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL ) to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ), tech companies endured a rough holiday shopping season as consumers tightened their belts and held on to their existing computers. Two of those firms are currently on the rise. Hewlett-Packard, which has been struggling as Lenovo continues to steal market share, has risen more than eight percent year-to-date. Dell has gained more than three percent since the start of the year.

Apple has not been nearly as lucky. The iPhone maker has lost more than four percent of its value this year. Microsoft has done the same.

Nearly every PC manufacturer experienced sales declines in 2012, particularly in the fourth quarter. Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard endured declines throughout most of the year .

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, MacBook sales fell by six percent . These declines came after the 15- and 13-inch MacBook Pro notebooks were upgraded to contain a solid state drive, a Retina Display and a more compact design.

While the Retina Display MacBooks are considerably more expensive than their lower-res counterparts, the 13-inch MacBook Air experienced a $100 price cut. This reduction came before the monthly Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) discounts, which typically reduce the final price by another $50 to $80.

Some critics have blamed Windows 8 for the PC slump. According to tech industry tracker IDC, however, the operating system is not responsible for the troubling sales figures.

IDC told Reuters that PC makers are the ones to blame because they failed to release machines with enough attractive features.

"Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience," Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC, told Reuters. "As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as Ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013."

During the fourth quarter, PC makers sold 89.8 million units worldwide -- a 6.4 percent decrease from Q4 2011. According to Reuters, this is the industry's worst performing holiday quarter in more than five years.

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This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , BBY , DELL , HPQ , MSFT

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