Acer beats up Dell on shipments

Gartner and IDC have both concluded that the worldwide PC market is returning to growth, faster than expected.

According to Gartner, worldwide PC shipments totaled 80.9 million units in the third quarter of 2009, up 0.5 percent from the third quarter of 2008. The results surprised the analyst firm, which had expected shipments to drop 5.6 percent.

“These are good results, especially given that PC shipments for the third quarter of 2009 are being compared to a very strong third quarter from 2008,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “The consumer market continued to lead unit shipment growth, driven by low priced mobile PCs.”

HP stayed top of the worldwide market, doing especially well in China. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, though, its shipments declined.

Surprisingly, perhaps, Gartner reckons the launch of Windows 7 will have only a minimal impact on PC unit growth – although it says inventory adjustments around the launch could artificially affect shipment volumes during the rest of the year.

“Recent OS releases have not been a growth driver in the PC market; however the timing of Windows 7’s is favorable for the industry, due to expected economic improvements and an overdue hardware replacement cycle,” Ms Kitagawa said. “We anticipate renewed interest in hardware upgrades from consumers and small business during the holiday season as a result of Windows 7’s release. In the corporate market, Windows 7 adoption is not expected to ramp up until late 2010.” 

After three falling quarters in a row, the US finally turned the corner, with shipments up  3.9 percent at 17.8 million units. Dell hung onto its top position in the US, although shipments fell 8.9 percent. Gartner analysts reckon this could be because Dell is focusing on profit protection rather than market share expansion.

EMEA PC shipments totaled 26 million units, 10.1 percent down on the same period in 2008. But shipments in Asia/Pacific grew 16.1 percent to 25.2 million units, with China showing 28.5 percent growth. In Latin America, 6.9 million units shipped in the third quarter, down 3.9 percent on last year.

IDC produced similar – though slightly less optimistic – figures, quoting global PC shipments up 2.3 percent year on year for the third quarter of 2009.

All regions except Japan either met or surpassed expectations, it said. Portable PCs still account for the majority of volume and growth.

“Despite the ongoing mix of gloom and caution on the economic front, the PC market continues to rebound quickly,” said Loren Loverde, program director for IDC’s Tracker Program. ”The competitive landscape, the transition to portables, new and low-power designs, growth in retail and consumer segments, and the impact of falling prices are all reflected in the gains by HP and Acer, as well as overall market growth.”

IDC puts the US market at 2.5 percent up on last year, agreeing with Gartner that HP holds the top spot. HP performed above market in most regions, says IDC, but was especially strong in Asia/Pacific excluding Japan.

There’s a special mention for Acer, which IDC says out-performed the market in virtually all regions.