Dell and HP rise, Sony falls in Japanese PC rankings

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and Dell Inc. were the big winners in the Japanese PC market last year, while Sony Corp.’s shipments slumped, a Japanese market research company said Thursday.

Total PC shipments for the year in Japan rose 4.2 per cent compared to 2003, to reach 12.5 million units, according to a report released on Thursday by Tokyo-based market research company MM Research Institute Ltd. (MMRI).

NEC Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. continued their dominance of the Japanese market, although NEC’s market share declined 0.7 points to 20.9 percent. Fujitsu was a close second with a 20 percent market share in 2004, down 0.9 points compared to 2003, the report said.

HP shipped about 713,000 PCs, compared to under half a million in 2003, to become the seventh biggest vendor last year. It was ranked eighth in 2003. Dell’s shipments rose nearly a quarter of a million units compared to 2003, to 1.34 million units. It ranked third last year, up from fourth in 2003, MMRI said.

Rising demand from the corporate sector benefitted both companies, said Masaki Nakamura, an analyst at MMRI. Shipments to companies and institutions were nearly 12 per cent higher than in 2003, he said. This increase helped offset a decline in the number of consumer PCs shipped.

“Dell and HP are focused on the corporate sector. They have excellent marketing strategies and have generated more demand for their products,” he said.

Sony, whose flagship Vaio brand is aimed at the consumer sector, was the biggest loser. Last year consumer PC shipments were down nearly five per cent compared to 2003, and Sony’s shipments fell 22 per cent to about 892,000 units. The company’s ranking fell from third in 2003 to fifth in 2004, according to MMRI.

“Sony is suffering,” said Nakamura. “There is a continued slump in the consumer market combined with the loss of brand power of the Vaio, which Sony is trying to promote. People are less willing to pay more for the brand and switching to lower-priced models,” he said.

MMRI is closely monitoring the effect of the US$1.75 billion purchase of IBM Corp.’s personal computing division by China’s Lenovo Group Ltd., which was announced in December. IBM’s PC sales in Japan were about the same in the last three months of 2004 as in the year earlier, and the announcement had no discernible effect on the company’s sales in December, the report said.

“However from January onwards … there are many unknowns about the ability of the new company to continue to maintain its sales partnerships,” the report said.

PC shipments have grown consecutively for the last three years and are expected to rise again in 2005, but are not expected to surpass the 13.2 million units shipped in 2000, said MMRI.