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PCs to buoy Asian hardware sales

Computer sales in Asia are expected pick up this year but sales of printers, servers and workstations will lag, according to a report.

Asian consumers and enterprises are expected to buy more computers this year but sales of printers, servers and workstations will be sluggish, revealed a recent study by Gartner Dataquest Asia-Pacific.

According to Gartner, PCs will account for 74 percent of computer hardware revenue in a region where the entire hardware segment is valued at $32 billion.

The research firm defines computer hardware as PCs, printers, servers and workstations, excluding storage.

"Overall, the market will be cautious when purchasing equipment but there will be demand from developing countries such as China, Thailand and Malaysia," Lilian Tay, Gartner senior analyst for Computer Systems and Peripherals, told CNETAsia.

These countries are slated to achieve unit shipment growth of between 13 percent and 39 percent, she added.

In 2001, China's Legend Computer was Asia's leading PC vendor, followed by IBM and Compaq, now a brand of Hewlett-Packard, said Gartner.

Four sectors anticipated to spend heavily on computers across Asia are government, education, financial and small- and medium-sized enterprises, Tay said, adding that a fair amount of year 2000 replacements will also contribute to the PC industry.

For printers, HP is poised to retain its lead this year ahead of closest rivals Epson and Canon. The printer market, however, is expected to decline in unit sales, falling from $3 billion in 2001 to $2.9 billion in 2002.

Server sales are projected to experience a 5 percent dip from 2001, to hit $5 billion this year. But in 2006, Gartner foresees a rebound in this segment to the tune of $5.65 billion.

"In the short-term, there's an indication of continuing price erosion across the board as well as tough market conditions at the high-end of the server space," Tay said.

However, in the next four years, economic conditions are expected to be more favorable, resulting in shorter buying cycles. This will then give new life to the server market, Gartner noted.

Last year, IBM was the No.1 server company in Asia-Pacific for both unit shipments and revenue.

Workstation sales will generally be weak up to 2006, the research firm said. By 2006, this market will be worth $418 million compared to $441 million today. Dell Computer, Sun Microsystems and Compaq were the top three workstation vendors in Asia last year.

On a country-by-country basis, China will continue to be the largest computer hardware market in Asia-Pacific, with Korea and Australia in pursuit.

CNETAsia's Fran Foo reported from Singapore.