PC industry hit hard in 2001

Even with holiday shoppers buying more systems than expected, the worldwide PC market ended 2001 with a whimper, with fourth-quarter shipments declining 6.7 per cent from a year ago, market research group International Data Corp. (IDC) said Thursday.

An even gloomier report was issued by Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Dataquest, which says 2001 marked only the second time in the history of the PC market that worldwide PC industries experienced a decline.

Gartner says worldwide PC shipments totaled 128 million units in 2001, a 4.6 per cent decline from 2000. PC shipments in the U.S. reached 44 million units, an 11.1 per cent decline from the previous year. The last time the PC industry experienced such a difficult year was in 1985, when worldwide PC shipments declined 2.3 per cent, and U.S. PC shipments dropped 21.8 per cent, according to Gartner.

While all of the top-tier vendors experienced double-digit declines worldwide in 2001, Dell grew 18.3 per cent and moved past Compaq as the No. 1 vendor based on shipments, Gartner reported.

However, there may be a bright side, IDC said. Towards the end of the quarter, PC sales showed early signs of improvement in both the U.S. and Europe. “We don’t expect a rapid turnaround, but the seeds of recovery are being sown,” Loren Loverde, director of IDC’s worldwide quarterly PC tracker, said in a statement.

Dell Computer Corp. took the lead from Compaq Computer Corp. in worldwide unit sales and was the only major PC vendor to gain market share over the three-month period, according to IDC. It’s share grew to 14.2 per cent, up from 11.7 per cent a year earlier, while Compaq’s share dropped to 11.2 per cent, from 12.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2000.

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s share of the market stayed flat at eight per cent, putting it in third place, while IBM Corp. and Europe’s Fujitsu Siemens Computers BV rounded out the top five. IBM’s worldwide market share dropped to 6.2 per cent from 7.4 per cent, while Fujitsu Siemens remained flat at 4.9 per cent.

In the U.S., direct sales giant Dell was again the only top-five PC vendor to gain share, and retained its pole position with 27.5 per cent of the market, up from 22.2 per cent a year ago, IDC said. Dell successfully fended off Compaq and HP, which held on to second and third place, respectively. With around 3 million units shipped, Dell sold more PCs in the U.S. than Compaq and Gateway combined, IDC said.

Compaq ended the quarter with 12.7 per cent of the U.S. market and HP with 12.2 per cent, while Gateway Inc. and IBM Corp. filled out the top five, IDC said.

In October, Toronto-based IDC Canada found that overall Q3 2001 Canadian PC shipments fell 17.5 per cent versus the third quarter of 2000. Consumers led the charge away from PC purchases, with shipments of home PCs down 26 per cent. But shipments in the business sector also dropped 10.3 per cent.

Besides the economic body blows North America sustained over 2001, John Stanisic, hardware research analyst at IDC Canada in Toronto, at that time blamed growing consumer market saturation and a less pressing need among business customers to upgrade their ageing equipment, what he dubbed the “good enough” factor.

(IDC is a division of International Data Group Inc., the parent company of IDG News Service.)

IDC Canada in Toronto is at http://www.idccanada.com

Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., is at http://www.gartner.com