Notebook sales trounce overall market

Worldwide shipments of notebook PCs grow 6.1 percent in the period, as overall PC shipments slip 1 percent. Dell and HP? They're in a virtual tie for first place.

Portability sells, even in down times: During the second quarter, notebook computers easily outpaced the PC market as a whole.

Worldwide notebook shipments grew 6.1 percent in the quarter, compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, overall PC shipments worldwide declined by nearly 1 percent, according to a new report by market researcher Gartner.

Notebook shipments totaled 6.9 million units for the quarter, versus 6.5 million units in the year-earlier period.

The current popularity of portable PCs is no surprise. Notebooks have been on the upswing for the past four years. Retail sales have been particularly brisk, thanks to steady price declines, second- and third-time buyers, and small-business owners.

In the second quarter, notebooks also got a boost from an emerging category: new models that use desktop Pentium 4 chips. PC makers have often used desktop chips in portables. But since March, nearly every top-tier PC maker selling to consumers has introduced a notebook model powered by a desktop Pentium 4. Typically, these machines--intended to provide good performance at a relatively low cost--come with a 2GHz or faster Pentium 4 and sell for $1,400 to $2,000.

The new trend has been well accepted by consumers, analysts say, and has helped expand the notebook market at the expense of desktops.

Overall, Gartner said, the increase in notebook shipments provided a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy quarter for most PC makers.

"Continuing growth in mobile PCs provides some good news in a worldwide PC market that overall remains weak," Charles Smulders, an analyst with Gartner, said in a statement. "The (worldwide) mobile PC market grew in most regions except for Japan and Latin America. The U.S. mobile PC market grew 9.3 percent year over year, supported by the beginning of back-to-school purchases, as well as orders from educational institutions."

Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard, which completed its merger with Compaq Computer in May, essentially tied for the No. 1 spot in the worldwide notebook market during the quarter.

The race will be close in the coming quarters as Dell continues its efforts to increase market share, while HP sorts out its Pavilion and Compaq Presario brands at retail and shifts its corporate customers from HP Omnibook to Compaq Evo notebooks.

Dell saw its shipments grow 10.6 percent year over year to 1.02 million notebooks, while HP's shipments declined by 0.4 percent to 1.01 million units. The companies had 14.9 and 14.7 percent of the market, respectively.

Toshiba, coming off a tremendous first quarter, showed the most growth during the second quarter, shipping 885,000 units--up 11.4 percent from the second quarter of 2001. It ranked as the No. 3 vendor for the quarter with 12.8 percent of the market.

Fourth-place IBM, with 10.7 percent of the market, saw a slight increase to 737,000 units, while No. 5 Sony saw a 5.2 percent increase to 489,000 units. Sony had 7.1 percent of the market.

Gartner expects notebooks to continue to outperform the market during the rest of 2002 and into 2003.

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