Global PC sales strong despite sluggish U.S. economy

HP, Dell and Acer stay on top of the sales heap for PC makers, says iSuppli

Global PC shipments were healthy in the first quarter, despite an ailing U.S. economy, according to research from iSuppli Corp.

Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and Acer Inc. all stayed atop the worldwide PC-sales heap, retaining their top-three rankings from the fourth quarter of 2007.

This news comes in sharp contrast to earlier news from analyst firm IDC about U.S.-focused sales in the same quarter. In April, IDC reported first-quarter U.S. PC sales growth of a "meager 3.5%" compared with the year-earlier period. The Framingham, Mass.-based research firm had initially predicted 7% growth in the quarter.

IDC analyst Doug Bell said he thinks a lot of desktop and laptop purchases by U.S. companies and consumers will be pushed off until 2009. He added that the U.S. economy hasn't yet affected worldwide PC sales, but it might in the coming quarters.

Meanwhile, research firm iSuppli reported that worldwide Q1 sales remained strong. Global PC sales increased by 69.9 million units in the first quarter, up 12.1% from the 62.4 million sold in the first quarter of 2007, the El Segundo, Calif., company said. That's good news for an industry in the midst of a sagging economy. ISuppli reported that during the past five years, first-quarter PC shipments have grown by an average of 12% compared with the same quarter the year before. That means Q1 2008 is right on track.

"The first quarter of 2008 was better than hoped for, due to continued strong demand growth for mobile PCs," said Matthew Wilkins, a principal analyst at iSuppli, in a statement. "However, the financial markets are still adjusting to the effects of the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, as are the consumers and businesses that have had their financial positions impacted."

HP, with a global market share of 18.9%, held on to its top spot among PC makers. The company shipped 13.2 million PCs worldwide in the first quarter of 2008, up 23% from the same quarter last year. It was the biggest percentage growth for any of the companies in iSuppli's top 10 list.

"Hewlett-Packard continues to outgrow the overall PC market and the competition due to a number of factors, including its strong channel presence and its success in capitalizing on the strength in the notebook segment," Wilkins said.

Dell's Q1 shipments were up 20%, coming in at 10.8 million units. Its market share hit 15.4%, up half a percentage point. In the No. 3 spot, Acer shipped 6.8 million units in the first quarter, giving it a market share of 9.7%.

Lenovo Group Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. rounded out iSuppli's top-five list, with market shares of 6.9% and 4.4%, respectively.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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