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SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones)--Global shipments of personal computers rose in the first quarter, despite expected impacts from a disk-drive shortage and a lack of new chips and software to stimulate demand.
Industry researcher Gartner Inc. (IT) said shipments of PCs rose 1.9% from the same time last year to 89 million units, exceeding its earlier projections of a 1.2% decline. Another analyst group, IDC, said shipments grew 2.3% to 87.1 million units; it had also predicted a decline.
The two firms said Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) remained the top PC maker by volume, with Gartner saying the company had a 17.2% share of the world-wide market, and IDC reporting it had an 18% market share. The Palo Alto, Calif., technology company grew both world-wide and in the U.S. after having lost share in the fourth quarter because of its public statements that it might attempt to sell or spin off its PC business. The company has since said it will keep the unit.
Lenovo Group Ltd. (LNVGY, 0092.HK), which had picked up share from H-P last quarter, was ranked second largest world-wide, with more than 13% market share, according to both research firms' data. The Chinese computer maker grew world-wide by more than a quarter over the previous year, the most of any top vendors. Lenovo saw its strongest growth in Europe, Gartner said, as well as with corporate customers.
Dell Inc. (DELL) ranked third world-wide with more than 11% market share, according to both firms. It underperformed in most regions compared with a year prior, Gartner said. In particular, the research firm said Dell's unit shipments in Asia fell for the first time in two years.
In the U.S., Apple Inc. (AAPL) ranked third behind H-P and Dell, with roughly 10% market share, according to the two industry researchers. Apple was the only vendor in the U.S. other than H-P to show market-share gains, Gartner said.
PC shipments were particularly strong in Europe, Gartner added, saying that demand from companies and professionals was above expectations in most countries. Consumer shipments, by comparison, "varied greatly by country."
Gartner warned that consumer demand appeared to be worse than normal throughout the industry.
Latin America and China both showed lower shipments, Gartner said. In Latin America, generic "white-box" PC makers were affected by the shortage of disk drives that had hit the industry after a manufacturing hub in Indonesia was hit with devastating floods. The Chinese government, meanwhile, ended a rural PC program that had otherwise sparked demand for desktop computers.
Both firms said the upcoming release of Intel Corp.'s (INTC) new chips and Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 8 operating system would likely boost demand, though it is still unclear how much.
In particular, demand among consumers, who bolstered the market during its worst periods in 2008 and 2009, was weak and likely would remain that way until the holidays, IDC said. "There's a combination of interest in the iPad and other devices as well as fatigue from economic news," said Loren Loverde, an analyst at IDC. In addition, he said, "The PC offering hasn't been all that exciting lately and they haven't yet captured the interest of consumers in significant volume."
Intel has kicked off a big marketing push to drum up interest in Ultrabooks, a new type of laptop computer that is thin, lightweight and powerful.
Gartner said the PC industry's expectation of strong growth in emerging markets may need to be adjusted, as a slowdown appears to be occurring. "This quarter provides a cautionary notice to vendors that the future growth for the PC industry cannot heavily depend on the emerging markets even though PC penetration in these regions is low," Mikako Kitagawa, a Gartner analyst, said in a statement.
-By Ian Sherr, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-439-6455; [email protected]
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