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PC sales up in Asia despite turmoil

Despite regional financial turmoil, sales of PCs in the Asia/Pacific markets showed healthy growth rates in the third quarter, increasing by an aggregate of 18 percent.

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Despite regional financial turmoil, sales of PCs in the Asia/Pacific markets showed healthy rates of growth in the third quarter of 1997, increasing by an aggregate of 18 percent compared the same period a year ago, according to a report by market research firm Dataquest.

The region's growth was largely attributable to sales in China, which grew by a whopping 60 percent, the report said. Sales in Taiwan and Singapore were also strong, with 36 and 26 percent growth rates, respectively.

For the first time in eight quarters, Compaq lost its No. 1 position in the region. Market share for South Korea's Samsung declined slightly to 7.1 percent, but unit shipments jumped 6.4 percent to 158,020, good for the top slot. By contrast, Compaq's market share in the region slumped to 6.7 percent, reflecting a unit shipment decrease of 1.3 percent.

Taiwan's Acer and other manufacturers in the market appear to have taken up the slack in market share.

Asia/Pacific 3rd Qtr Unit Shipments
Company 96 Share (%) 97 Units 97 Share (%) Unit growth
Samsung 7.9 158,020 7.1 6.4
Compaq 8.0 149,690 6.7 -1.3
Acer 5.9 147,842 6.7 32.3
Other 78.2 1,764,334 79.5 19.7
Total 100.0 2,219,886 100.0 17.7
Source: Dataquest (November 1997)

Samsung's performance is directly linked to the ongoing financial crisis in the region, said James Staten, a Dataquest analyst. As currency there loses value, foreign companies have a harder time moving goods, he explained.

"Suddenly those who are local and don't have to pay import fees are the ones who have an advantage, and that's what Samsung has been able to capitalize on," Staten said, adding that Samsung has also improved its standing through an aggressive marketing campaign and by offering an increased variety of products.

Offsetting decreases in such Asia/Pacific countries as Indonesia and Thailand and flat sales in others, China clearly propped up the numbers for the region. Staten said the country's 60 percent growth was partly due to low numbers for the third quarter of 1996, but also due to other factors, including its stable economy and a crackdown on the sales of gray market goods.

"We're going through a kind of technical renaissance in China," Staten added. "There's an awful lot of attention being paid in China to learning about computers and using them."

Staten predicted China would continue to prop up future sales in the region, which does not include Japan. Most countries, he said, will report growth in the single digits over the next two quarters.