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Notebooks continue shipment gains

Hewlett-Packard stayed on top of the notebook market during the second quarter, as laptop PCs continued to win over consumers, according to a report from researcher IDC.

Hewlett-Packard stayed on top of the notebook market during the second quarter, as laptop PCs continued to win over consumers.

Statistics published Tuesday by IDC show that industrywide notebook shipments rose by 22.4 percent globally on a year-over-year basis during the second quarter and grew by 1.5 percent from the first quarter. Meanwhile, shipments in the United States grew by 18 percent year over year and by 8 percent sequentially, IDC said.

Though small, the sequential gains reversed normal seasonal declines, showing that notebooks continue to gain favor with computer buyers. On the corporate side, simultaneous increases in notebook purchasing by businesses during the second quarter could point to the beginnings of a small, but steady rebound in commercial PC sales, IDC said.

"Commercial notebook shipments grew by 9.6 percent, sequentially," said Allen Promisel, analyst with IDC. "In a quarter where you typically see a drop in units, we saw commercial demand pick up. Effectively, this could mean that we've seen the worst and we're pulling out of it."

HP, Dell and IBM all increased shipments during the second quarter, while Toshiba suffered lower shipments, IDC said.

HP, which shipped the most notebooks during the first quarter, maintained the top market-share spot during the second quarter as well. The Palo Alto, Calif., computer giant garnered 17.3 percent of the worldwide market during the quarter. Dell followed with 15.4 percent, and Toshiba had 11.2 percent. IBM took fourth with 9.6 percent of the market, followed by Fujitsu-Siemens with 6.1 percent.

The roles of HP and Dell were reversed in the U.S. market, where Dell had the most market share with 26.6 percent. HP followed with 20.3 percent.

Toshiba and IBM were nearly tied for the third spot with 9.6 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, fifth-place Apple garnered 7 percent of the U.S. market, and Gateway was the sixth-largest seller with 4.1 percent of the market.

Of all the sellers, Toshiba probably had the toughest time during the quarter, IDC said. The company saw its unit shipments fall by 21 percent worldwide, as pricing pressure in the United States and PC market weakness in Japan took their toll, IDC said.

HP had the most to celebrate, as it sat in the top spot and saw worldwide notebooks shipments increase by 10 percent sequentially. But notebooks were the only real bright spot in HP's admittedly disappointing third fiscal quarter PC performance. Dell held on to the top spot in overall PC shipments, which include desktops, notebooks and servers, during the second quarter.

Notebook shipments have been increasing steadily since 1998, IDC said. But the market could face some challenges, including the possibility of increases in DRAM and LCD panel prices, which could prompt manufacturers to pare back features or raise prices during the coming fourth quarter and the holiday season.

Still, laptops are expected to continue to gain ground. Notebooks represented nearly 27 percent of alls PCs sold both worldwide and in the United States during the second quarter, up from about 25 percent for both markets during the first quarter. Thanks to sales seen of late, the portable PC category is well on its way to eclipsing the 30 percent mark and should reach 35 percent of PC sales in the U.S. market by 2007, IDC said.