After a steep decline last year, PC sales in the region grew 7 percent from the fourth quarter and more than 11 percent sequentially, according to research from International Data Corporation. Total PC shipments in the area, excluding the Japanese market, reached 2.89 million units in the quarter, the highest ever, the report said.
"With the fourth-quarter results, there is reason for guarded optimism looking toward 1999," said Kitty Fok, research manager at IDC Asia/Pacific.
More frequently, others are expressing that same hope based on a variety of indicators. Chip sales in the region rose 2.4 percent, for instance, for the month of December from the same period a year ago, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.
"We are optimistic," said Paul Chan, vice president and managing director of Compaq Computer's Asia Pacific division, told Bloomberg. "The industry is expected to grow high single-digit to low teens. We expect to double that."
In a market that accounts for about 5 percent of overall sales, Compaq is forecasting shipments to Asia, excluding Japan and greater China, to rise about 20 percent this year through improved handling of inventory.
Compaq's projections echo similar optimism by others in the industry, such as Hewlett-Packard, the world's biggest printer maker, and Seagate Technology--the largest independent computer disk drive maker--that the region is seeing signs of recovery.
Compaq atop heap in Asia-Pacific
Compaq led the region for the year with 8.5 percent market share, according to IDC, followed closely by IBM's 8.1 percent market share. Legend and HP tied for third place with a 5.4 percent share.
Legend has a strong lock on the Chinese market and used its position to register 73.4 percent shipment growth, the report said. Dell Computer also posted strong growth across the region, tallying 45.9 percent sales increase.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.