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Compaq tops IBM at large firms

Compaq's planned merger with Digital will push it past IBM in terms of PC market penetration among large businesses.

Compaq's (CPQ) planned acquisition of Digital Equipment (DEC) will push the world's largest PC maker past traditional leader IBM in terms of personal computer market penetration among large businesses, according to a market researcher.

Compaq and Digital's PC sales overlap less than might be expected: Digital's PC business will bring some 72,000 new business customers to Compaq, according to Computer Intelligence.

Combined, Compaq and Digital machines are found in 18 percent of businesses with more than 100 employees, while IBM machines reach 14 percent. Without Digital, Compaq runs slightly behind IBM. The same spread holds for businesses with more than 250 employees.

"What we found is that they [Digital] do bring a presence in places that Compaq does not reach," summarized Dave Tremblay, senior industry analyst at Computer Intelligence. "Digital makes [Compaq] the larger, puts them over the top." The survey accounts for all PCs currently used by businesses. A survey limited to later-model, Pentium-class systems revealed similar results, Tremblay said.

The finding is surprising in that most observers had focused on the merger for Compaq's gaining Digital's high-end corporate, or enterprise-class, products and services. However, it underscores the strategic soundness of the deal, Tremblay observed.

"To sell to enterprises, you've got to have a presence. That's the key, that's why the PC-based companies have been focusing on adding people to call on enterprise accounts," Tremblay said. "With the acquisition Compaq is buying a presence in a number of accounts where they don't have a presence."

Tremblay said the finding would probably not affect Compaq executives as they evaluated merging the two companies' product lines.