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Global PC sales tank to lowest level since 2008

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Global personal computer (PC) shipments tanked almost 9 percent on-year during the third quarter - a period of historically strong demand - to the lowest level in five years, according to a new report by Gartner.

"The third quarter is often referred to as the 'back-to-school' quarter for PC sales, and sales this quarter dropped to their lowest volume since 2008," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at technology research firm Gartner.

PC shipments totaled 80.3 million units in the July-September period marking the sixth straight quarter of declining worldwide shipments.

(Read more: PC sales in China will get crushed this year: IDC)

The continued shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption is weighing on demand in both developed and emerging markets, the firm said.

"A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets," said Kitagawa.

China's Lenovo retained its crown as the top global PC maker with 17.6 percent market share in the third quarter, followed closely by Hewlett Packard (HP) with 17.1 percent market share.

"The upcoming holiday sales season will be a key battlefield for both companies," Gartner said, noting that HP recorded its first positive shipment growth since the first quarter of 2012.

(Read more: Is the tablet market cooling off?)

While Lenovo held on to the number one position, weakness in its home market dampened the company's overall growth. Robust growth in North America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, however, helped to offset the softness, the firm said.

Taiwan-based Acer and Asus, the world's 5th and 6th largest PC makers, meanwhile, suffered a sharp fall in shipments of 22.6 and 22.5 percent on-year in the third quarter as both companies shift their focus away from PCs to other device markets.

Shares of Acer and Asus fell 0.5 and 1.5 percent, respectively, on Thursday, while shares of Lenovo gained 0.9 percent.

CNBC's Ansuya Harjani; Follow her on Twitter @Ansuya_H

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