PC sales grew 17 per cent in 2005

Worldwide shipments of personal computers registered a double-digit percentage increase in 2005, according to figures published Wednesday by two major market analysts.

Gartner Inc. estimated 218.5 million PCs were shipped in 2005 while IDC said it believes worldwide PC shipments totaled 208.6 million units. Both companies count desktops, mobile computers and x86-based servers in their figures and both said the data is provisional.

“The general good news is that it’s another strong quarter,” said Loren Loverde, director of IDC’s PC Tracker research. Despite long-standing concerns about weakening consumer PC sales, shipments have grown more than 17 per cent above 2004’s totals for the past three quarters running, he said.

The Europe, Middle East and Africa region (EMEA) came out on top of Gartner’s regional ranking for the first time to become the largest PC market worldwide.

Shipments in EMEA totaled 72.6 million in 2005, a 17.1 per cent jump on 2004 and several million units ahead of the U.S. market, which was estimated to have seen 67.2 million shipments in the year. U.S. market growth was pegged at 7.5 per cent, which was well below the worldwide average of 15.3 per cent.

Gartner believes the replacement cycle for corporate desktop PCs has peaked in the U.S., with across-the-board softness showing in the fourth-quarter. However, mobile PC growth was steady, especially in the SMB (small and medium business) market.

However EMEA was not the best performing region in terms of growth. That crown was shared by Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) and Latin America, both of which saw 26 per cent growth during the year, said Gartner. Factors propelling growth included strong fourth quarter demand in China, the expansion of PC sales beyond major cities in India and overall strong demand in Latin America. IDC did not release geographical shipment data.

Dell Inc. was ranked the top PC vendor by both companies.

Gartner estimated Dell shipped 36.8 million machines for a 16.8 per cent market share and IDC estimated shipments of 37.8 million PCs for a 18.1 per cent share.

Its growth for the entire year was above the industry average, at 18.6 per cent versus the industry-wide 15.3 per cent, but it has been slowing down during the year and in the fourth quarter only slightly exceeded industry growth, said Gartner. Dell saw particularly strong business in international markets, said IDC.

Second-ranked Hewlett-Packard Co. recorded growth just under the industry average said both companies and remained a couple of per centage market share points behind Dell.

The year was good on Lenovo Group Ltd., which acquired the PC business of IBM Corp. earlier in the year. It finished as the number three largest PC vendor by Gartner and IDC. Both companies ranked Taiwan’s Acer Inc. as number four and Japan’s Fujitsu Ltd. as number five. The latter company’s shipments include those from its Fujitsu-Siemens Computers GmbH unit in Europe.

IDC thinks PC shipment growth will slow this year — it’s forecasting growth of just over 10 per

cent. However, 2005’s total was stronger than IDC initially forecast, and Loverde said he won’t be surprised if that pattern repeats.

“We’re not formally upping the forecast yet, but there’s definitely good indicators going into 2006,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of vendors like Acer and Apple that are growing quite rapidly.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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