Worldwide PC sales rose 10.9pc in the first quarter of this year, driven by strong demand for notebook computers and the actions of buyers who held off buying PCs until the arrival of Windows Vista.
According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, year-on-year growth improved from the fourth quarter in all regions with Europe and Asia-Pacific showing the biggest improvements and exceeding forecasts.
Japan recovered from a double-digit decline in the fourth quarter but was the only region with declining volume as the US moved back into growth mode.
Portable PC adoption remained the primary driver with a strong consumer component.
IDC reckons the availability of Vista moved some volume from the fourth quarter to the first quarter. However, it believes that peak growth in 2004 and 2005 had more to do with slower growth at the end of 2006 than users waiting for the new operating system from Microsoft.
“The strong first quarter is a good indicator of the health of the industry,” said Loren Loverde, director of IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.
“The US and Japan didn’t grow much in the first quarter but solid gains elsewhere and a boost from Vista brought us back to double-digit growth.
“The key market drivers – portable adoption and consumer demand – continue at a healthy clip and commercial replacements should contribute more in coming quarters. Growth is likely to stay in double-digits over the next two years although it will be concentrated in portables and international markets,” said Loverde.
She said that the shift to portables and related changes in various segments will force PC vendors to revaluate their channels and go-to-market strategies to adapt to new market dynamics.
“Some of this restructuring has already begun but it is likely to accelerate as Dell evaluates recent losses and vendors such as Acer and Lenovo change their strategy for the US market,” Loverde added.
Within Europe growth was around 7pc based on strong demand for portable PCs. Desktop sales remained roughly flat year on year.
Market leaders HP and Acer continued to gain share with Toshiba, Packard Bell and Asus also registering strong growth.
Dell continued to suffer from slower corporate demand and retail competition in the consumer space and saw volume fall marginally from a year ago while Fujitsu Siemens and Lenovo shipments increased but trailed the market.
By John Kennedy