Showing no signs of slowing down, sales of personal computers to U.S. businesses grew by 16 percent during the fourth quarter of 1997, according to a study by market researcher Computer Intelligence.
The study's findings, based on more than 5,000 monthly telephone calls to U.S. businesses, are significant since workplace sales are considered a bellwether for the PC industry.
"The corporate market in the U.S. has been the driving force of PC sales really since the inception of the market," said Matt Sargent, an analyst at Computer Intelligence. "I can't think of any company that is doing well that is not strong in the workplace market."
According to the study, December's purchase index grew by 15 percent compared to the same month in 1996. While the index was down slightly from November 1997, workplace sales growth is expected to continue. Sargent noted that the 16 percent growth for the quarter was "a little higher than previous growth."
PCs sold to businesses differ in a number of ways from those sold to homes. For one thing, they usually include peripherals devices such as networking cards that allow them to be plugged into corporate networks. They also tend to be faster than home systems. On the other hand, graphics capabilities and CD-ROM drives tend to be less important.
Like sales in the broader PC market, consolidation among vendors is stealing sales from smaller vendors, according to Computer Intelligence's report, which said that "The top five vendors have taken almost four [market] share points from the rest of the market this year."