PC shipments surge in third quarter

Worldwide PC shipments show double-digit increases, boosting the fortunes of manufacturers such as Dell, which retained its market share crown.

John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
John G. Spooner
3 min read
The worldwide PC market grew more quickly than expected in the third quarter, according to PC shipment and market share numbers released Wednesday by research firms Gartner and IDC.

"All regions showed double-digit year-on-year growth, with the exception of Latin America," Gartner analyst Charles Smulders said.

The PC market as a whole grew 15.7 percent compared with the same period last year, according to IDC. Gartner's figures showed a growth rate of about 14.1 percent worldwide.

Approximately 38.4 million desktops, notebooks and servers with Intel or AMD chips left factories during the third quarter, according to IDC. Gartner said 42.5 million were shipped. The two companies measure PC shipments slightly differently. Gartner's numbers tend to be larger, because it includes brand-name PCs, "white box"--or unbranded PCs--and computers built at home by enthusiasts.

IDC said PC shipments in the United States increased by 16.1 percent, while Gartner said shipments grew by 19.1 percent.

In a battle that's now becoming familiar, Dell held on to the PC market share crown during the third quarter, but Hewlett-Packard substantially cut the lead.

"This time, the gap between HP and Dell on a worldwide basis narrowed to about 60,000 units. It was a closer race in the third quarter," Smulders said.

IDC's figures show the Dell-HP unit shipment gap at 127,000 units. Dell shipped about 500,000 more units than HP during the second quarter of this year.

Both Dell and HP were buoyed by stronger unit sales. Dell saw shipments grow by 27.9 percent worldwide, while HP saw sales grow 28 percent, according to IDC.

Dell?s worldwide market share was 15.3 percent, compared with 15.1 percent for HP, according to Gartner. In the United States, Dell owns 27.4 percent of the market, while HP has 19.4 percent.

Before the third-quarter results came out, Dell had been on top for three of the past five quarters. HP took the top spot in the second quarter of 2002 and the fourth quarter of 2002.

As is often the case, IBM was a distant third with a worldwide market share of 5.3 percent and a U.S. market share of 4.6 percent, according to Gartner. Still, IBM saw shipments grow by around 16 percent worldwide and by nearly 10 percent in the United States, both research firms said.

Fujitsu Siemens Computers and Toshiba were the fourth and fifth in worldwide market share, the two research firms said. In the United States, Gateway and Apple Computer rounded out the top five. Gateway saw its market share decline to 3.3 percent in the United States, as its shipments went down by 28.6 percent, according to Gartner. Apple, meanwhile, saw shipments rise, but not as fast as the market. The company's U.S. market share is now 3 percent, while its worldwide share is below 3 percent.

Overall, the U.S. market was pushed along mainly by consumer spending. Notebook PC shipments increased during the quarter both in the United States and worldwide.

HP laptop champ
Strong notebook unit shipments likely helped HP, which shipped more notebooks than any other company during the second quarter, both IDC and Gartner said.

Lower prices, better performance and wireless capabilities are helping notebooks take root with both consumers and businesses, the two research firms said.

But one area of the industry that showed few signs of life is the U.S. business market--unlike Europe, where some businesses encouraged by the strong position of the euro against the U.S. dollar began spending on PCs, IDC and Gartner said.

Looking ahead, IDC expects the PC market to enjoy a better fourth-quarter performance, as business spending increases at least slightly.

"I'm expecting Q4 to be pretty good with more of the same," IDC analyst Roger Kay said. "Consumers are probably going to have a pretty normal fourth quarter, which means they'll buy more PCs (for the holiday season), but I think that businesses are going to come in more strongly in the fourth quarter because of budget flushing."