PC sales still slow as Dell closes in on new HP

PC sales declined for the fifth quarter in a row, dashing hopes for a speedy recovery in computer sales, according to data published Thursday by two research companies.

Worldwide PC shipments for the second quarter of 2002 were down 0.5 percent from a year ago, to 31.1 million units, according to data from IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts. Shipments also were down from the immediate prior quarter, by 7.8 percent, IDC said.

Results from Gartner Inc., in Stanford, Connecticut, told a similar story, showing a 0.6 percent year-on-year decline for the quarter, with 29.9 million units shipped, the company said in a statement.

IDC had expected sales for the quarter to be better after figures released earlier this year sparked some optimism. Aging PCs, the arrival of better technologies and a more stable economy still could spur a recovery in the coming quarters, IDC said.

Both IDC and Gartner placed the new Hewlett-Packard Co., now merged with Compaq Computer, at the top of the worldwide PC market. HP claimed 15.1 percent of the market in the second quarter, with 4.7 million units shipped, IDC said. Dell came a close second with 14.8 percent of shipments and 4.6 million units sold. Rounding out the top 5 sellers were IBM Corp. (6.3 percent), Fujitsu Siemens Computer Holding BV (3.8 percent) and NEC Corp. (3.2 percent).

Of this group, only Dell showed year-on-year market share growth, posting a 15.5 percent rise in shipments, according to IDC.

Gartner’s numbers were similar to those of IDC. It gave HP a 15.5 percent share, Dell 14.9 percent and IBM 6.6 percent. Gartner rounded out its top 5 with NEC at 3.5 percent of the market and Toshiba Corp. taking 3 percent.

While HP took the top spot in worldwide shipments, it held onto only a slight lead of 0.6 percentage points over Dell, Gartner said. HP saw shipments decline 16.1 percent in the quarter.

Sales in the U.S. remained weak, particularly in the consumer segment, IDC said.

In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), meanwhile, shipments fell 0.3 percent in the quarter, Gartner said. Unit shipments in Japan dropped 12 percent, while Asia/Pacific and Latin America posted single-digit growth rates of 5 percent and 4.3, respectively.

The research companies said PC sellers will need to promote DVD drives and improved graphics features to boost business.