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PC Shipments Rise, But U.S. Market Softens

IDC and Gartner said the global market was driven largely by strong demand for mobile PCs, particularly in regions outside the United States.

Global PC shipments in the first quarter reflected a healthy market with demand in Europe, Asia, and other regions taking up the slack in a softening U.S. market caused by a weakening economy, two separate research reports released Wednesday showed.

While actual numbers differed, IDC and Gartner said the global market was driven largely by strong demand for mobile PCs, particularly in regions outside the United States, where overall growth was pegged at a meager 3.5% over the same period a year ago by IDC and 3% by Gartner.

Worldwide, PC shipments grew by 14.6% to 69.5 million units in the quarter, according to IDC. Rival Gartner reported a growth rate of 12.3% to 71.1 million units.

"With the weak economy in the United States, PC shipments were negatively impacted by cautious PC buying in the consumer and commercial markets," IDC analyst Doug Bell said in a statement. "Despite the tough economic environment, shipment growth remained in positive territory, essentially driven by the sustained shift to mobility, combined with Dell's renewed competitive stance."

Indeed, Dell showed further signs of recovery after ceding the title of world's largest computer maker to Hewlett-Packard in 2006. IDC reported that Dell enjoyed its strongest quarter in almost two years with a 21.6% rise in year-over-year shipments. Gartner pegged Dell's growth rate at 21.8%.

HP's performance was less impressive. While outpacing the overall market, the computer maker's growth rate was the lowest among the top five vendors, according to IDC and Gartner, which pegged HP's growth rate at 17.4% and 17.5%, respectively. Within the United States, HP registered its lowest year-on-year growth since the Compaq merger in 2003, Gartner said.

Both researchers listed the top five vendors in the same order, starting with HP and followed by Dell, Acer, Lenovo, and Toshiba.

In the United States, Dell remained the top PC maker with HP No. 2. Together, the vendors account for more than 55% of the market.

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