Researcher NPDTechworld said Tuesday that it was the slowest sales month for desktops in almost four years.
While April tends to be one of the slower retail sales months, that in itself doesn't account for the drop, said Stephen Baker, director of research at NPDTechworld.
"That just says how tough the market is and how far we've fallen from the heady days of 1999 and 2000," he said. "There are months where we can't even generate the volume."
Sales should pick up in the next few months, Baker said, although he doubts unit sales will head back into the positive range until back-to-school buying begins in earnest.
NPD's retail research backs up recent studies on the PC market as a whole. Researcher IDC recently reported that shipments of desktops, notebooks and Intel-based servers2.7 percent worldwide and 0.4 percent in the United States in the first quarter of 2002 compared with a year ago.
According to NPD's study, Hewlett-Packard led the pack of desktop makers, with almost 45 percent of unit sales at retail. That was about on par with its normal market share, Baker said. Recent HP acquisition Compaq was No. 2, with 21.6 percent of the market. Compaq's share has been slipping in recent months as the company "re-evaluates" its position in the retail market, Baker said.
Emachines and Sony rounded out the top four, grabbing 15 percent and 11.2 percent of the market, respectively.
Sales of notebooks fared somewhat better than desktops in April, Baker said, although growth was barely perceptible at just under 1 percent. One factor that may have held back notebook sales: an increase of about $100 in average price because of the introduction of new Intel Pentium 4-based systems.
"People...noticed that notebooks got a little more expensive, so there was maybe a tendency to wait and see what happens," Baker said.