Corporate buying boosts Dell PC sales

Dell has surged ahead of rival Hewlett-Packard as corporate buying lifted the worldwide PC industry in the first quarter of this...

Dell has surged ahead of rival Hewlett-Packard as corporate buying lifted the worldwide PC industry in the first quarter of this year, according to IDC and Gartner figures.

The market enjoyed a strong quarter as corporate customers made up for a seasonal downturn in consumer purchases, said Roger Kay, vice president of client computing for IDC.

IDC counted worldwide shipments of 41.2 million units in the first quarter, up 16.5% compared with the first quarter of last year. Gartner put the worldwide shipment figure at 45.3 million units, a 13.4 increase from last year's first quarter.

Gartner's results for total shipments numbers are generally larger because it counts a higher percentage of white-box, non-branded systems than IDC, said Charles Smulders, vice president of Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group.

"This is indicative of a general economic recovery. We think it will be sustainable for at least a year," Kay said.

Dell regained the market share lead from HP with 18.6% of the worldwide market.

HP has a stronger consumer presence and tends to benefit around Christmas time. It slipped out of the leading position it had held in the fourth quarter, finishing three points behind Dell with 15.6% of the market in the first quarter, according to IDC.

Gartner's numbers were slightly different, but Dell was still in front with 16.5% of the market. HP's share was 14%, as the company was also hurt by inventory problems in the channel that forced HP to ship fewer units in the first quarter. The situation was back to normal by the end of the quarter.

This is the first time since HP purchased Compaq that either company has had that large a lead on its competitor, Kay said. Dell simply grew faster than HP as compared to last year's first quarter, posting a 28 percent gain in shipments over HP's 15.8% improvement, he said.

IBM was third in worldwide shipments with 5.5% of the market. Strong PC shipment growth in Europe helped Fujitsu Siemens Computers and Acer hold on to fourth and fifth place with 4.6% and 3.3% of the market respectively, IDC said.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa posted the strongest growth of any region with a 17% jump compared with last year's first quarter. Many countries in that region are still suffering from economic downturns, but the weaker dollar meant PC prices were cheaper than usual, spurring many companies to take advantage of the deals.

HP leads the EMEA market with 15.8% of the first-quarter shipments to that region, according to Gartner figures released yesterday. Dell was second with 11.1%.

Local PC companies in China, such as Legend and Founder, were able to battle back against the international suppliers in the first quarter, he said.

In the US, the top three suppliers finished in the same order as the worldwide results. EMachines finished fourth, while Gateway was fifth. Gateway completed its acquisition of eMachines in March and stands to gain market share next quarter as it integrates eMachines' business into its PC lineup, Kay said.

Gartner's numbers for IBM, Fujitsu Siemens, eMachines, and Gateway were very similar to IDC's. Both IDC and Gartner's shipment numbers measure desktops, notebooks, and servers based on processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices that use the x86 instruction set.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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