Here's one trend that's showing no signs of slowing down. The global PC market, which had already been in decline for four straight quarters, has now dropped for a fifth consecutive quarter. Will the bleeding stop? Or are we permanently shifting to an iPad-centric world of computing?

The data comes from Gartner, Inc., which tallied the second quarter's total shipments at 76 million units. That's down 10.9 percent from the 85.3 million PCs shipped in Q2 of last year. This fifth straight quarter of declining shipments sets a new record of futility for the PC industry.

Lenovo took the top prize for the quarter with 16.7 percent of total shipments (on 12.7 million shipments). It barely edged out HP, which had 16.3 percent share on 12.4 million units. Acer landed in third place with 8.5 percent on 6.3 million shipments, and Asus rounded out the top for with 6 percent (moving 4.5 million shipments).

The data includes both the obvious (traditional desktops, laptops, Ultrabooks), and the not-so-obvious (Windows 8 tablets and hybrids, like the Surface Pro and Lenovo Yoga). It didn't, however, include mobile processor-powered "media tablets" like the iPad, Nexus 7, or Kindle Fire.

Shipments were down consistently across the globe, so this isn't a case of one region weighing global totals down.

The usual suspects

Unsurprisingly, Gartner points its finger at consumer tablets as the primary culprits. Windows 8 obviously hasn't stopped the hemorrhaging, as some had hoped, but Gartner's principle analyst Mikako Kitagawa doesn't believe it should necessarily be blamed for the downward spiral either:

    While Windows 8 has been blamed by some as the reason for the PC market’s decline, we believe this is unfounded as it does not explain the sustained decline in PC shipments, nor does it explain Apple’s market performance [which was down 4.3 percent in the US from Q2 2012].

Computing habits have shifted, and smartphones and tablets have increasingly become the primary computers in many households. Or, at the very least, they're keeping those dusty old desktops from being upgraded as often as they once were.

The next few years should be interesting to watch, as Microsoft and its gang of OEMs continue their push towards portable touch-based PCs. Will longer battery life and the inevitable price drops be enough to turn consumers on to those next-gen PCs? Stay tuned: the Microsofts, Intels, HPs, and Lenovos of the world have a lot riding on that question.

Source: Gartner