(Bloomberg) -- Global personal-computer shipments fell 7.7 percent in the third quarter on slower desktop sales and higher dollar-based prices, market researcher Gartner Inc. said.

PC manufacturers shipped 73.7 million units, compared with 79.8 million a year earlier, Gartner said in a statement Thursday. The introduction of Microsoft Corp.’s new Windows 10 operating system had a “minimal impact” as many upgrades went on existing PCs instead of new ones, the company said. Researcher IDC reported a similar drop in shipments.

The decline, following a 9.5 percent drop in the prior quarter, underscores the persistent challenges facing PC makers as more shoppers opt for smartphones and tablets. The stronger dollar is making computers more pricey abroad even as companies try to lure buyers with new types of devices.

 "The global PC market has experienced price increases of around 10 percent throughout the year, due to the sharp appreciation of the U.S. dollar against local currencies,” Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner, said in a statement.

Lenovo Leads

Lenovo Group Ltd. widened its lead as the top global supplier, with a 20.3 percent share of the market, Gartner said. The company shipped 15 million PCs, down 4 percent from a year earlier. Hewlett-Packard Co.’s shipments also fell 4 percent, followed by Dell Inc., whose shipments rose by 0.5 percent.

The report comes amid a shake-up in the hardware industry. Hewlett-Packard is set to separate into two companies next month -- with one selling PCs and printers and the other supplying businesses with high-end technology. The aim is to give the historic tech giant more flexibility as it grapples with new rivals and a shift to cloud-based computing.

Meanwhile, Dell is in talks to combine with EMC Corp., people with knowledge of the matter said, in a deal that would help the companies cater to more customers. The deal may be completed as soon as next week.

 IDC, which on Thursday also released its third-quarter report on PC sales, said global shipments fell by almost 11 percent to 71 million units, with the U.S. market declining by 0.7 percent. The research firm attributed the drop to some of the same reasons highlighted by Gartner.

The researchers said the results may improve in the future. About half of consumers expressed their intention to purchase a PC in the next 12 months, compared with 21 percent who intend to buy a tablet, according to Gartner’s 2015 personal technology survey.

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