No Dude, More Sales For Dell - InformationWeek

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No Dude, More Sales For Dell

Though it's retired its hip pitchman, Dell has regained the top spot as the world's largest computer maker, according to two research firms

The demise of the dude hasn't hurt Dell.

Despite the retirement of its hip pitchman, Dell recaptured the top spot from Hewlett-Packard as the world's largest computer maker, according to numbers released by two research firms.

Dell accounted for 17.3% of global PC shipments during the first quarter of 2003, market research firm IDC said, compared with HP's 15.8%. The next three in the top five--IBM, Fujitsu, and Toshiba-- were far behind, with just 5.4%, 4.8%, and 3.7% market share, respectively.

Dell, which has swapped the top spot with HP for the last five quarters, benefited from timing. "Besides the fact that Dell's on a roll," said Roger Kay, director of IDC's Client Computing group, "the first quarter is a more commercially-oriented quarter. Dell tends to be a more commercially oriented company."

Dell's strengths, IDC pointed out in its report, are in the small- and midsize business areas.

A report issued by Gartner also tags Dell as the leader in PC sales for the quarter, although its numbers are slightly different. According to Gartner, Dell accounted for 16.9% of worldwide PC sales, with HP second at 15.6%. Rounding out Gartner's top five are IBM, Toshiba, and NEC.

Domestically, Dell had an even tighter grip on the PC market during the quarter, boasting a market share of 30.7% in Gartner's study and 31.8% in IDC's. HP, which sells PCs under its own moniker and under the Compaq brand name, was a distant second in the United States, cornering approximately 19% of the market in both research firms' reports.

The strength of Toshiba, whose sales rose between 19.2% and 23.9% over the same quarter last year, demonstrates the continued shift from desktops to notebooks, said Kay. Toshiba sells only notebooks in the United States, and the company's global sales of desktops are a paltry 10,000 units.

"Not only has Toshiba done a good job of focusing its business," said Kay, "but it's benefiting from a trend in more mobility."

As deployment of wireless networking grows, notebook-oriented sellers like Toshiba will do even better through the remainder of 2003.

Overall, PC sales were up 2.1% this quarter compared to 2002's first three months. That's in line with IDC's earlier projected increase of 2%.

"Sales are up slightly both worldwide and domestic," said Kay, noting that the quarter's increase is the third consecutive climb. "We've clearly hit bottom already. Now it's just a matter of re-establishing growth."

Gartner's report was a bit more optimistic--it tagged worldwide PC sales growth at a more robust 5.5%--but its conclusions were much the same. Said Charles Smulders,VP of Gartner's computing platforms worldwide group, "Worldwide first-quarter 2003 results were slightly ahead of expectations, but even so do not signal a major return to buying."

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