Global PC sales jump 12pc

19 Jan 2005

The global PC business shrugged off some softness in the US and European consumer markets to achieve double-digit growth in 2004. The latest research from Gartner finds that worldwide PC shipments in 2004 increased 11.8pc from 2003, driven by strong laptop sales.

“Overall fourth quarter 2004 PC sales were in line with projections, despite some weakness in the US and EMEA consumer markets,” said Charles Smulders, vice-president of Gartner’s Computing Platforms Worldwide Group. “Lower prices, better performance and wireless accessibility accelerated mobile sales.”

The total number of units shipped rose from 169 million in 2003 to 189 million in 2004.

Dell strengthened its lead in the worldwide vendor market with solid performance across all regions. In the fourth quarter, falling component prices allowed Dell to further lower prices and gain margin and market share. The Texas-based computer marker saw its market share rise from 14.9pc in 2003 to 16.4pc in 2004, extending its lead over second placed Hewlett-Packard (HP), whose market share was flat at 14.6pc. These two players dominated the market with IBM’s PC division (now sold to China-based Lenovo), Fujitsu/Fujitsu Siemens and Acer – the third, fourth and fifth players respectively – achieving an aggregate market share of 12.7pc.

Smulders said IBM had exited the PC business due to poor margins and that further consolidation was to be expected in the next three years for this reason.

In the US, PC shipments totaled 62.3 million units in 2004, an 8.3pc increase from 2003. During the fourth quarter of 2004, the consumer market showed mixed results, with weaker than expected desktop growth but very solid notebook market growth. Dell dominates this market with a 30.3pc share (2003: 27.7pc), with HP sitting at 18.4pc (2003: 18.6pc). Gateway, which retreated from Europe in 2001 after closing its Dublin-based European production facility, is the third ranked player in the US with a 5.8pc share.

In the EMEA region, PC shipments totaled 61.7 million units in 2004, a 14pc increase from 2003. In the fourth quarter, shipments totalled 19.5 million units, an 11.7pc increase.

“2004 was a strong year showing double-digit growth throughout the year. The market in Europe was strengthened by favourable exchange rates, strong mobile growth and by businesses finally replacing their PCs,” said Ranjit Atwal, analyst of Gartner’s Computer Platforms group in London.

Although HP held onto the top spot, with 16.1pc share of the EMEA market, Dell and Fujitsu Siemens gained most share, increasing its total market share by 1.5pc over 2003.

“In the fourth quarter of 2004, the EMEA market experienced a weaker than expected desk-based consumer market,” Atwal added. “However this was balanced out by strong demand for notebook PCs from business users. Prices remain under significant pressure. Many retailers are finding it difficult to sell at anything other than products at entry-level prices, although average prices for commercial PCs remained stable despite the continued depreciation of the dollar versus the euro.”

The EMEA PC market continues to move at two speeds: the combined growth of the top 10 PC vendors was closer to 20pc, whilst vendors in local country markets recorded less than 5pc growth.

In 2005, Gartner sees growth in EMEA slowing down creating a very challenging environment, which will become even more competitive as IBM/Lenovo reveals its EMEA strategy.

In the Asia-Pacific region, shipments increased 13.1pc in the fourth quarter of 2004. Both China and India showed strong. During the fourth quarter, many vendors typically stimulate demand with aggressive prices and accessory bundles.

Latin America showed the strongest fourth-quarter growth, with PC shipments increasing 24.7pc. Gartner said PC ownership continues to be driven by increased awareness, cheaper and more available credit, lower prices and the appearance of new brands, such as Gateway in Mexico.

By Brian Skelly