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PC market laughs in the face of economic uncertainty

Growth from the same quarter a year ago is 16 percent, slightly better than analysts anticipated, though slowing in the Asia-Pacific market sparks some concern.

Despite concerns that a weakening U.S. economy would slow spending here and elsewhere, the PC market is chugging along respectably.

The market's success was foreshadowed Tuesday by Intel, whose solid quarter demonstrated that there's continued demand for notebook PCs particularly. Shipments of PCs worldwide grew 16 percent in the second quarter of this year, led by the Europe, Middle East, and Africa regions, according to IDC. Shipments were down in the Asia-Pacific region, usually a strong market for growth, but the results were even worse in the U.S., where units shipped grew 3.6 percent, according to IDC. That's the second straight quarter of sluggish growth for the U.S.: Q1 of this year saw 4.6 percent growth.

What we learn from the slowdown in the Asia-Pacific region is that these other international regions are not entirely independent of the U.S. slowdown.

"We haven't seen the impact on international PC shipments yet," said IDC analyst Loren Loverde. "What's remarkable about Asia is we're just starting to see that slower growth."

In the U.S., Dell put a bit more distance between itself and chief rival Hewlett-Packard, though both continued to do well. HP was up 16.8 percent, just slightly ahead of the market overall. Dell grew 12 percent in the second quarter, which is down from the previous two quarters of 15 percent growth each, but it's clear the company is righting the ship. Its retail strategy, now in place for a year, is working, and its stated goal of growing its international business also appears to be on track, said Loverde.

HP continued to lead all PC vendors with 18.9 percent of units shipped worldwide. Dell came in at 16.8 percent, followed by Acer/Gateway at 9.9 percent, Lenovo at 7.9 percent, and Toshiba at 4.4 percent.

Other highlights:

*60 percent of Lenovo's business is done in the Asia Pacific region, and despite that the company still did well, growing shipments at 14.6 percent worldwide.

*Apple tied Acer with 7.8 percent of PCs shipped to the U.S. market, according to IDC.

*Windows lost share to Mac OS yet again.