PC sector returned to growth last year - Taipei Times
Mon, Jan 20, 2003 - Page 10 News List

PC sector returned to growth last year

ELECTRONIC BRAINS While the industry sold 2.7 percent more personal computers than it did the previous year, analysts do not see many reasons for growth this year

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

The global PC market returned to positive growth last year after declining in 2001, US-based technology research firm Gartner Dataquest Inc reported on Friday.

Gartner Dataquest's preliminary results show that 132.4 million computers were sold last year, representing an increase of 2.7 percent on 2001.

The global PC market decreased for the first time in its 25-year history in 2001, contracting 4 percent.

While the growth is good news for the troubled technology industry, some analysts said there were no signs of a strong rebound this year.

"In the second half of 2002, the worldwide PC market had two consecutive quarters of year-on-year PC shipment growth," said Charles Smulders, a vice president at Gartner Dataquest.

"Despite this growth, we still believe PC market demand is still at the bottom of a growth cycle and has yet to show evidence of a significant upturn," he said.

Gartner Dataquest gathers statistics from global PC vendors each quarter, compiling figures for the sales of both desk-based and mobile computers. The newly merged Hewlett-Packard Co and Compaq Computer Corp led the market last year, selling just under 21.5 million PCs worldwide. That figure represents 16.2 percent of the total market. Dell Computer Corp came second with 20.1 million units, or 15.2 market share.

Before HPs merger with Compaq in May 2002, Dell was the leader in the global PC industry.

But HP's stint at the top may be short-lived, as Dell's sales growth last year outpaced all its rivals. Dell shipped 18.3 percent more PCs last year than it in 2001. HP and Compaq combined saw the number of PCs they shipped drop by 9.3 percent, the Gartner Dataquest report said.

"Dell's focus on improving its international operation performance continued, as it experienced strong growth across all regions," Smulders said. "Its most notable improvements were in Asia-Pacific, Japan and Latin America."

International Data Corp (IDC), another researcher, has not yet released its figures for last year, but in a report by Bloomberg on Saturday, the firm disagreed with Gartner's figures for the two leaders, placing Dell ahead of HP. But IDC does agree with Gartner that the PC market returned to growth last year, but it reports a more modest firgure of 1.5 percent.

The industry sold its billionth PC last year. The next billion PCs are expected to be sold in a much shorter timeframe. Gartner predicts that the 2 billionth PC will be sold in 2008, or within six years, compared to 25 years for the first billion.

"The PC is a tool that allows humans to leverage intellectual ability," Martin Reynolds, vice president and research fellow for Gartner, said last summer when the 1 billion barrier was broken.

"The PC allows companies to complete basic tasks with fewer employees, freeing up resources that can be used to grow the business. Businesses can decrease process cycle times, reducing the amount of working capital consumed by administrative processes," Reynolds said.

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