Gartner Q1 figures reveal US economic problems may be affecting PC sales

Dell retail move boosts worldwide performance

Worldwide PC shipments saw a 12.3 per cent increase in like-for-like sales during the first quarter of 2008, driven largely by EMEA, Asian and Latin American sales according to preliminary results from Gartner.

Shipments totalled 71.1 million units during the quarter with the strongest performing region being EMEA with 24.8 million units being sold during the three-month period.

However, concerns have been raised that the US market may be beginning to feel the impact of the recession with the region only seeing marginal growth of three per cent. That compares with 19.1 per cent growth in Latin America, 19 per cent growth in Asia-Pacific and 14.9 per cent growth in EMEA.

"The US results were in line with our expectations, indicating that the PC market was modestly affected by the US recession, although there was no fundamental changing in market conditions," said Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner’s Client Computing Markets group.

US PC shipments reached 15.2 million units with much of the growth driven by laptops and sub-notebooks. "Indications are that the market felt the squeeze in the second half of the quarter, added Kitagawa. "The US market is softening and this could potentially hasten downward price pressure and further intensify competition for the rest of 2008.

"Home mobile PC growth continued to drive US PC growth," she added. "Despite declining consumer confidence, US consumers did not put off mobile PC purchases as evidenced by solid mobile growth during the first quarter. This growth was stimulated in part by aggressive price cuts."

HP managed to maintain its global lead with a total market share of 18.3 per cent. Dell though is fast catching up with HP, increasing its market share to 14.9 per cent – up from 13.7 per cent the same time last year, boosted largely by the success of its retail and channel programs.

Acer also saw strong growth with it increasing its market share to 9.5 per cent, up from 8.5 per cent. Kitagawa, however, said that its growth had been stunted by its attempts to move out of the low cost market into the medium-price bracket.

The slowdown in HP’s worldwide growth was mainly down to its poor performance in the US and Dell resurgence in the face of its new channel and retail programs. Dell’s market share in the US reached 31.4 per cent – up from 27.9 per cent in 2007 – while HP’s slipped 0.2 per cent to 25 per cent.

The effects of Acer’s attempt to move into the mid-range laptop market can be best seen in its US market share figures with it slipping by 18.3 per cent from 11.5 per cent in Q1 2007 to 9.1 per cent.

Apple continued to experience huge growth of 32.5 per cent with it seeing its shipments break the one million barrier for the first time in quarter one.

Other regions around the rest of the world were much more sheltered from the effects of the credit crunch. "The Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific regions showed stronger than expected results, fuelled by solid mobile PC growth across most countries," she added.

Much of the growth was put down to continued demand for laptop computers, with shipments falling just shy of the 25 million-unit mark, at 24.8 million units. However, indications are that much of the demand was driven by price decreases due to increased competition from the likes of Dell and Lenovo.

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