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Latin America PC sales surge in first quarter

Strong economies in Brazil and Mexico, coupled with a growing Internet infrastructure, spur the jump in sales.

PC shipments to Latin America surged 48 percent in the first quarter of 2000, according to research firm Dataquest.

PC makers shipped 1.3 million units during the quarter, with 62 percent going to Brazil and Mexico. Strong economies in both countries, coupled with a growing Internet infrastructure, spurred the jump.

"With the home segment leading the PC regional growth, it appears that the region's PC health is getting back to normal after the effects of the Asian crisis and the Brazilian devaluation of January of 1999," Dataquest analyst Luis Anavitarte said in a statement.

Brazil emerged as the PC leader for the region, with 85 percent growth over the first quarter of 1999. While some of the dramatic change could be attributed to contrasting slow sales a year earlier, "aggressive Internet development taking place in Brazil is benefiting the overall PC industry in the country," Anavitarte said.

Mexico followed Brazil, accounting for 28 percent of the Latin America PC market. Argentina took the third spot, with 10 percent of shipments.

The home market showed strongest growth, 80 percent year-over-year, with Compaq leading in the market segment. The Houston-based PC maker's market share grew more than three points to 22.1 percent.

But Hewlett-Packard emerged as the company to watch. As in the United States, where aggressive marketing and improved products have boosted HP's retail sales, the company is seeing similar unit gains in Latin America.

"We are seeing a more aggressive HP throughout the region," Anavitarte said. "Its 31.7 percent growth is the result of a much more focused and enhanced local marketing strategy than previously."

IBM narrowly held its No. 2 position, decreasing its share to 5.5 percent from 7.9 percent a year earlier. HP followed closely with 5.3 percent market share, down from 7.1 percent a year earlier. IBM and HP PC unit shipments grew 23.3 percent and 31.7 percent, respectively.

Acer and local PC maker Alaska battled for the fourth and fifth positions, with 5 percent and 4.3 percent market share. Acer's unit shipments increased a modest 22.5 percent, compared with Alaska's 75.4 percent.

Dell was the only other major PC maker in the top 10. While Dell's unit shipments increased 44.3 percent, the company lost market share year-over-year, down to 3.5 percent from 3.7 percent.