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Asia, Latin PC markets growing

The computer markets for Asia and Latin America are growing on par with the worldwide market, but that's where similarities end.

The computer markets for Asia and the Pacific region (excluding Japan) and Latin America are growing at 15 and 19.8 percent, respectively, on par with the worldwide PC market. But in many ways that's where the similarity ends.

Two studies released by Dataquest this week paint contrasting portraits of two of the world's emerging computer markets. In Asia, generally considered a more mature computing market, regional economic slumps caused the growth rate to dip slightly below overall worldwide growth, which is around 17 percent. The slump is expected to depress upcoming sales.

By contrast, sales in Latin America came as a result of a computer industry's just getting off the ground.

Compaq (CPQ) led in both regions, followed hotly by Acer and IBM (IBM).

Asia/Pacific's growth rate over the last quarter was salvaged almost single-handedly by China, according to Cherry Velarde, an international analyst for Dataquest. For the second quarter, unit consumption in that nation was up 41 percent. Nearly 25 percent of the computers shipped to the region went to China.

Economic crises in Malaysia, Thailand, and South Korea during the second quarter, on the other hand, caused computer demand to plummet in those markets. Before the respective crunches, both Malaysia and Thailand were buying computers in excess of the regional growth rate. During the same time period, South Korea got knocked off the pedestal as the number one Asia/Pacific market by China. Overall, close to 4 million PCs were shipped to the Asia/Pacific region.

Currency devaluation in various Asian nations will likely lead to higher prices in the short term and depressed sales in the third quarter, said Bruce McCabe, another Dataquest analyst.

By contrast, Latin America experienced growth because improvements in the computing infrastructure are catching up with the rest of the world, according to Luis Anavitarte, Dataquest's lead research analyst for the region.

Overall growth came in at 19.8 percent, and was often inversely related to the size of a nation's established computing base. Columbia's computer market grew 60 percent, for instance, while Peru's grew 75 percent, according to Anavitarte. Brazil, the area's largest market and one of the region's top producers of computers, grew by only 11 percent. "This trend (of domestic importing) may inspire entrepreneurs in other countries as well," he said in a prepared statement.

In segment markets, PC server shipments grew a whopping 221 percent while mobile computing sales grew 64 percent.

Still, the PC market is small, even compared to Asia/Pacific. A total of 799,131 PCs were shipped during the quarter, less than half of the Asia/Pacific total for the same period, and far less than sales in the U.S. or Europe.

Elsewhere in the world, growth in Western Europe came to 14 percent while U.S. growth came to 21.9 percent for the second quarter, according to Dataquest.

Compaq dominated both developing markets, said the reports. In Latin America, the company commanded a 17.9 percent share, followed by IBM and Acer, each at 11.4 percent. In Asia/Pacific, Acer jumped to the number two position, displacing Korean manufacturer Samsung.