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IDC: World PC market picks up in first quarter

While the worldwide PC market has not achieved positive year-on-year growth, the market is not declining as much as had been projected, according to new market data released by analyst group IDC.

For the first quarter of 2002, PC makers worldwide shipped 31.4m PCs, down 2.7% from the 32.2 m shipped in the first quarter 2001, but up from the 5.4% year-on-year decline that had been expected for the quarter, IDC said. First-quarter shipments were down 8.9% over the fourth quarter of 2001, according to the US-based company.

The research tracks shipments of desktops, portables and Intel-based servers priced under £17,300.

US shipments for the quarter, which ended 31 March, were down only 0.4% from 2001, and the decline from the fourth-quarter holiday season of 2001 was 6.1%, less than the historical average of 10.4%, IDC said. Total shipments for the quarter were 10.6m, down from 10.64 m in the first quarter 2001, according to IDC.

IDC's numbers are at odds with those from its rival Dataquest which last week said that PC shipments in the US had risen by 2.3% in the first quarter of 2002 compared to the same quarter 2001

Either way, the growth in the worldwide market is being driven by a general economic improvement, said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. Aggressive pricing by vendors and users replacing older PCs also played a part, he said.

As the economy improves, IDC expects the US to lead recovery, with Europe a bit more cautious, but with larger growth potential. Asia also showed strong growth in the first quarter, with both South Korea and Australia posting positive growth, IDC said.

The chief beneficiary of the overall improvement was Dell, IDC said, which shipped 4.8m PCs worldwide for the quarter, up from 4.2m in the same quarter 2001. Compaq followed Dell with 3.4m PCs shipped, nearly 12% fewer than the 3.8m shipped in the first quarter of 2001.

Hewlett-Packard ranked third with 2.3m PCs shipped, down slightly from 2.4m in 2001. IBM shipped 1.8m PCs in the first three months of the year, down from just over 2m at the same time last year. Fujitsu-Siemens rounded out the top five vendors, shipping 1.6m PCs, down from 1.8m in the first quarter 2001.

Forthcoming quarters will probably see other vendors attacking the positions held by Compaq and HP as their merger is completed, Loverde said.

Loverde expects that overall PC shipments will increase as the year goes on, with education buying driving the trend in the second and third quarters with business and holiday spending strong at the end of the year.

"The trend would be to ramp towards the second half [of the year]," he said. "The economic and technology drivers will support definite improvement [in the second half of the year]."

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