Notebook PCs drive overall PC sales

Notebook PCs continue to drive most of the growth in the overall PC market, as commercial customers finally start replacing...

Notebook PCs continue to drive most of the growth in the PC market, as commercial customers finally start replacing hardware, according to analyst firm IDC.

Shipments of notebooks increased 22% in the second quarter, compared with the second quarter of 2002. In that same period, desktop shipments increased 2%. Overall PC shipments increased by 9.5%.

Notebooks represent only 27% of the overall market for PCs, but as both consumers and businesses look to replace ageing desktops, they are realising they can get performance that far exceeds their old desktop PC in a portable unit with wireless internet connectivity and multimedia features such as a DVD player, said IDC analyst Alan Promisel.

Hewlett-Packard led the world in notebook shipments in the second quarter, with 1.5 million units shipped out of a total of 8.7 million units in the quarter. Dell trailed with 1.3 million units, and Toshiba managed to hold onto third place overall with 970,000 units despite sharp market share declines worldwide, Promisel said.

HP also posted the strongest growth in notebook shipments, compared with the second quarter of 2002. HP's shipments increased 48% year on year, compared with an increase of 31% for Dell.

Toshiba's shipments edged up 9% from the second quarter of 2002, but the company lost 1.3% of market share as it endured a tough quarter in Japan. IBM came in fourth place, with 837,000 units shipped in the second quarter, an increase of 21% year on year.

The lead in the market for notebooks is contested by more players than the overall PC market. Dell and HP dominate the market for desktop PCs, but their lead over Toshiba and IBM is less daunting in the notebook category.

IBM sells about as many desktop PCs as notebooks, while Toshiba sells very few PCs outside of the notebook category. Dell and HP both sell about 2.5 times as many desktops as notebooks, which is closer to the overall market picture.

Growth from IBM indicates that the commercial market for notebooks is starting to pick up, because IBM markets almost exclusively to that category, Promisel said.

Consumers have kept the overall PC market afloat with their purchases of desktop replacement notebooks the past few quarters, but businesses still purchase the majority of all notebooks shipped in any particular quarter.

Early indicators point to a successful holiday season for notebooks, and PCs overall, Promisel said.

The second half of the year is almost always a stronger period for PC and chip manufacturers, since the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons both fall in the latter half of the year.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

Read more on PC hardware