PC shipment growth at its lowest since 2002

Preliminary market figures have found the PC industry suffered its worst quarterly growth rate in six years at the end of 2008.

The PC industry suffered its worst growth rate since 2002 in the fourth quarter of 2008, as worldwide shipments totalled 78.1 million units.

This was an increase of 1.1 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2007, according to preliminary results published today by analyst firm Gartner.

"The US experienced steeper than expected shipment declines due to the recession. The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region was also affected by the economic slow down across key countries," said Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group.

Asia-Pacific also recorded the worst shipment growth since Gartner started its PC statistics research. While Latin America met expectations, its growth was also much lower than in the past.

Gartner said the netbook segment was the main growth driver for the 2008 holiday PC season, outpacing overall growth in what it calls the mobile PC' market.

But PC revenue overall experienced a record decline, where a steep drop in average selling prices, as well as robust growth of more low-priced systems, including mini laptops, contributed to this drop. Indeed, Asus was given a special mention, because it recorded the best performance year-on-year with 67.9 per cent growth.

In terms of market share, HP still managed to grow above the worldwide average during the last quarter, particularly in EMEA with its netbook sales. But even its year-on-year growth was its lowest since its merger with Compaq in 2003.

Dell struggled to increase shipment volume in the US and EMEA, but held onto second place. Acer's growth continued to be driven by low priced PCs, with worldwide PC shipments growing 31.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2008.

Lenovo maintained its fourth position in the worldwide market, but it also suffered a decline for the first time since 2006. Toshiba held onto fifth with 20.7 per cent year-on-year fourth quarter growth.

For the full year, worldwide PC shipments totalled 302.2 million units in 2008, a 10.9 per cent increase from 2007. The top five PC manufacturer ranking remained unchanged compared to 2007.

In EMEA, PC shipments reached 107.9 million units in 2008, a 17 per cent increase from 2007. But in the fourth quarter of 2008, PC shipments totalled 30.4 million units, only a 4.9 per cent increase from the fourth quarter of 2007.

"As expected, the EMEA PC market slowed rapidly during the fourth quarter of 2008 with growth levels hitting those last seen during the 2000/2001 period," said Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group in EMEA.

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