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Asian PC market hit by crisis

The financial turmoil that's been crippling Asian economies has crept into the region's PC market, slowing growth.

The financial turmoil that's been crippling Asian economies has crept into the region's PC market, slowing growth and lowering analysts' expectations.

PC factory shipments in the Asia-Pacific region for fourth quarter 1997 grew only 11 percent from the same quarter last year, according to a report released today by the International Data Corporation. Shipments for the entire year increased 18 percent, boosted by primarily robust sales before the currency dip took its toll.

"Most of the regional slowdown was caused by Asia's weakened currencies as the crisis dampened potential for growth," IDC Asia-Pacific analyst Kitty Fok said in a prepared statement. "High interest rates coupled with a slowdown in economic growth forced governments, consumers, and businesses throughout the region to cut spending on personal computers."

Southeast Asia took most of the blow, as higher PC prices, slow economic growth, and a lack of credit for channel partner purchases decreased volume in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

The South Korean market actually showed moderate decline over the same period last year. Most of the country's economic problems hit the PC industry toward the end of the quarter, and IDC expects volume to decline significantly in the first quarter of 1998.

China remains a bright spot amid the turmoil. Asia's second-largest market posted an impressive 43 percent growth over the same period last year (see related story), and continues to grow every quarter. Helped by its blossoming local PC industry, China last year surpassed South Korea and now trails only Japan, which is not considered part of the Asia-Pacific region.