HP's gain is Dell's retreat

Gartner study shows rivals swapping top spots in worldwide market

Dell's rocky road of managerial change and recovery has seen it slip from its perch at the top of the PC food chain, according to data recently released on a preliminary basis by Gartner. A year-over-year comparison of first-quarter shipments shows that HP has taken a comfortable lead over Dell, although the build-to-order specialist remains the leader in the US market, the world's largest. Even that coveted position looks to be in jeopardy"the gap between Dell and HP was more than 10 percent a year ago but has slipped to less than a two percent cushion.

Despite worldwide PC market growth of nearly nine percent over the period, Dell was the only vendor in the top five to decline in raw shipments. HP boosted shipments by over two million computers to take the new pole position at 17.6% of the global desktop business. Dell clocks in with 13.9 percent, followed by Acer, Lenovo, and Toshiba, all of which posted modest market share gains. The US market may not be enough to save Dell even if it can hang on to its leadership position there, as total shipments in the US grew just 2.9 percent over the period, far less than the global landscape.

Dell's struggles were anticipated given its recent management shuffle which returned founder Michael Dell to active executive status. The company has been publicly experimenting with more buyer-friendly flexibility in recent weeks, including a new flirtation with Linux and the reintroduction of Windows XP.

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