IDC ups 2001 PC-shipment estimate

The research firm is saying earlier numbers were off because it undercounted computers sold by small "white box" manufacturers.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
Research firm IDC has increased its estimate of the number of computers shipped in 2001, saying its earlier numbers were off because it undercounted computers sold by small "white box" manufacturers.

In 2001, 133.5 million desktops, notebooks and PC-based servers were shipped, rather than 125.5 million, as earlier stated by IDC. The 8 million-unit difference in items shipped comes from previously uncounted computers sold by white-box manufacturers, which generally sell to small organizations in limited geographic areas.

Taking the revised figure into account, PC shipments declined by only 4 percent on a worldwide basis from 2000 to 2001, according to a new report from IDC. Earlier, the firm said shipments declined by 5 percent in 2001.

Although they were losing ground to the brand-name PC manufacturers such as Gateway and Hewlett-Packard five years ago, white-box manufacturers have begun a quiet resurgence worldwide. These manufacturers often customize their PCs for specialized markets or can respond rapidly to in-house service needs. Net Express, for instance, sells servers and workstations to academic departments.

"At one point, people looked at white-box players as low-cost, but we are seeing a different picture," said Loren Loverde, an analyst at IDC. "They are helping people with their IT (information technology) solutions. The large guys are spread more thin on a global basis."

Often these manufacturers are better able to take advantage of component cost declines than multinationals, said other analysts. Small manufacturers carry hardly any inventory and can often pick up parts for less than posted wholesale prices because of excesses in supply. Electronics malls, and alleyways in Shanghai and other cities in Asia are filled with do-it-yourself manufacturers.

The discrepancy in the IDC numbers arose because of the difficulty of counting shipments of white-box PCs, Loverde said.

The recalculation did not change the shipment numbers of the major manufacturers, but it did shift their relative market shares. Dell's market share dropped to 12.9 percent from 13.7 percent under the new calculations. Dell Computer, though, still saw shipments increase by 16.4 percent over 2000.

Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Fujitsu-Siemens, which held the No. 2 through No. 5 spots, respectively, in terms of market share worldwide in 2001, also saw market share decrease by less than 1 percent as a result of the recalculation. All these manufacturers, though, saw their shipments decline by between 8.5 percent (Fujitsu) to 15.7 percent (Compaq).

Manufacturers out of the top five saw their market share climb to 58 percent from 55.8 percent under the old numbers. Overall, this group saw shipments decline by 3.4 percent.