Global computer sales growth modest: Gartner

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The Independent Tech

More than 85.2 million computers shipped worldwide during the recently ended quarter as the economy and interest in tablets kept market growth modest, industry trackers said Wednesday.

Shipments of personal computers (PCs) were 2.3 percent greater than that seen in the same three-month period last year, according to Gartner.

Market research firm IDC pegged growth during the quarter at 2.6 percent.

The slow overall growth indicated that the PC market is in a period of adjustment, according to Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

"After strong growth in shipments of consumer PCs for four years, driven by strong demand for mini-notebooks and low-priced consumer notebooks, the market is shifting to modest, but steady growth," Kitagawa said.

PC shipments in the United States totaled 16.9 million units in a 5.6 percent decline from the same quarter last year, according to Gartner. IDC calculated the year-over-year drop as 4.3 percent.

Factors behind the drooping US performance included being compared to blockbuster growth in the same quarter last year and interest by companies in alternatives to running on-premise computer networks.

"Demand has softened as corporate buyers continue to focus on increasing share of their IT budget in new IT solutions such as cloud and virtualization," said IDC analyst Rajani Singh.

Along with economic doldrums, interest in tablet computers such as Apple's coveted iPads was hampering home PC sales, according to analysts.

"Given the hype around media tablets such as the iPad, retailers were very conservative in placing orders for PCs," Kitagawa said.

"Instead, they wanted to secure space for media tablets," she added.

Asia and Latin America were bright spots for PC makers, with shipments there rising 9.6 percent and 15 percent respectively when compared with the same three-month period in 2010, according to Gartner.

"These preliminary results continue to reflect pressure from competing consumer and business products as well as cautious spending," said Jay Chou, a senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

"Nevertheless, product refreshes and promotions in the second half of the year as well as easier year-ago data should boost growth in the second half of the year," he continued.

Hewlett-Packard remained the top PC maker, with its share of the global market increasing to 17.4 percent, Gartner reported.

Dell ranked second with 12.3 percent of the market.

Chinese computer maker Lenovo saw the biggest gain in market share while Taiwan-based Acer's portion shrank, according to IDC and Gartner.

Macintosh computer maker Apple saw the strongest growth among "top-tier" PC vendors in the United States, Gartner reported.