IDC, Gartner find Q3 PC shipment increases

Spurred by low-priced computers, global shipments of PCs increased more than 17 percent in the third quarter, according to analyst companies IDC and Gartner Inc., which independently released figures from that period on Monday.

In the U.S., Apple Computer Inc. squeezed into the fifth spot on IDC's tally with 737,000 shipments for 4.3 percent of the market, with 44.6 percent year-on-year growth. Apple came in fourth on Gartner's U.S. shipments list with 744,000 shipments and 4.2 percent of the market.

The news of Apple's growth in PC shipments comes just two weeks after IDC reported significant growth in PC shipments for the company's education division. Apple currently finds itself in third place in worldwide education computer shipments, behind Dell in first place and Hewlett Packard in second place. In the United States, Apple is in second place behind Dell. Comparing the fourth quarter of 2004 to the fourth quarter of 2005, Apple saw its education computer shipments rise 15.08 percent worldwide and 13.79 percent in the United States.

Vendor Dell Computer Inc. topped both lists in terms of global shipments and market share, with 18 percent of the market according to IDC and just under 17 percent by Gartner's figures.

Low-cost and portable systems drove the increase, which occurred in spite of higher interest rates and surging oil prices, IDC said. PC market growth for the quarter was "remarkable" and maintained "relative independence from broader economic trends," Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, said in a statement Monday.

Loverde's counterpart at Gartner highlighted home demand for mobile computers as particularly strong in the quarter. Overall market growth was better than expected, said Charles Smulders, vice president of Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide Group.

Aggressive pricing in the U.S. led to shipments that were higher than expected in the desktop market, coupled with continued demand for notebook computers, IDC said. Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in the middle of the quarter and had some effect on the last month of that period, but the larger effect is forecast for the fourth quarter, which has been ushered in by higher fuel costs and a drop in consumer confidence.

Outside of the U.S., European Union expansion, investments in general infrastructure and low prices kept the PC market humming along, while in Japan, new product launches appealed to buyers. In the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan, both business and home purchases of computers remained robust, IDC found.

As for vendors, IDC figures show Dell with global shipments of nearly 9.5 million for the quarter, and with U.S. shipments of 5.6 million. In percentage terms, those figures gave Dell 18 percent market share globally and 33 percent in the U.S., both of which were up slightly over the same period of last year. Year-on-year, Dell had 17.8 percent growth internationally and 12.2 percent growth in the U.S.

Gartner recorded 9.2 million shipments for Dell globally, for a market share of nearly 17 percent, with U.S. shipments of 5.5 million for a 30.7 percent market share.

Second behind Dell for the quarter by both analyst counts was Hewlett-Packard Co., with nearly 8.5 million shipments globally for a 16 percent market share, and 3.45 million U.S. shipments for a 20.3 percent share, according to IDC. HP's international year-on-year growth stood at 17.9 percent and was 10.1 percent in the U.S. Gartner's figures for HP came in just below IDC's but were comparable.

Lenovo Group Ltd. was third in global shipments with just over 4 million for a 7.7 percent market share, according to IDC, and roughly the same shipment number with a 7.4 percent market share by Gartner's count. The company was fourth on IDC's list for U.S. shipments, with 757,000 units for 4.5 percent of the market, and stood at fifth in the U.S. with 751,000 shipments and 4.2 percent of the market according to Gartner. The third quarter was the second one since Lenovo took over IBM Corp.'s PC business.

Gateway finished third in U.S. shipments on both analyst companies' lists, with just over 1 million units and a 6.4 percent market share, up 35 percent over the third quarter of last year by IDC's estimation. Gartner said Gateway had a 6 percent market share and shipments up 33 percent. Gateway didn't factor in international shipments by either count. The company posted its second consecutive quarter of recovery after years of declining, IDC said. Gateway made good use of new distribution partners and is well positioned to continue its recovery in the fourth quarter, IDC said.

Internationally, Acer Inc. was fourth in shipments with nearly 2.5 million for a 4.7 percent market share, up 53.7 percent year-on-year, according to IDC, and had 2.4 million shipments and 4.4 percent of the market by Gartner's reckoning. Fujitsu Siemens Computers (Holdings) BV filled in the fifth spot on both lists, just shy of 2 million shipments worldwide for a 3.8 percent share and 15 percent year-on-year growth according to IDC, and with just over 2.2 million shipments and 3.7 percent market share according to Gartner.

IDC, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, is owned by International Data Group Inc., parent company of IDG News Service. Gartner is based in Stamford, Connecticut.

MacCentral's Jim Dalrymple contributed to this report.

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