Worldwide shipments of personal computers grew 13.7 percent in the fourth quarter on strong demand from small- and medium-sized businesses and holiday shoppers, research firm IDC reported. However, a report from technology research firm Gartner Inc. put quarterly growth at a more modest 10.9 percent.
IDC said it was the seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit growth in PC shipments and that the fourth-quarter gain brought full-year growth to 14.7 percent, slightly above the firm's forecast of 14.5 percent growth when compared with 2003. Gartner put last year's full-year growth at 11.8 percent.
Total PC shipments during the October to December period grew to 51.5 million compared with 45.3 million in same period a year earlier, IDC said. Gartner reported shipments of 53.9 million, up from 48.6 million in 2003.
"Spending on PCs by all sizes of business continues to grow steadily, and consumers came out in force in the holiday quarter to pursue their growing interest in PCs and the digital lifestyle," said Roger Kay, IDC's vice president of Client Computing.
IDC forecasts growth in worldwide PC shipments will moderate to about 10 percent this year. "Ongoing PC replacements and new investment should continue to drive commercial growth at least through the end of 2005," said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. The European market continues to drive much of the global growth, she said.
IDC said Dell boosted it market share to 17 percent in the fourth quarter compared with HP's 16 percent. In the same quarter a year ago, HP had the top spot at 16.6 percent, compared to Dell's 16 percent.
For all of 2004, Dell kept its market share at 17.9 percent compared to HP's 16.7 percent.
IBM placed third in the fourth quarter with a 5.7-percent share, down from 5.9 percent a year earlier. Acer, with 4.3 percent, and Fujitsu/Siemens, with 4 percent, rounded out the top five.
Apple Computer Inc. and Gateway Inc. remained outside the top five, but both PC makers posted strong quarterly gains, IDC said. Apple's introduction of a new iMac computer and spillover business from the popularity of the iPod music player helped boost Apple's PC shipments more than 25 percent.
Gateway continued to grow at a slower pace than the market as a whole, but gained fourth-quarter momentum after its acquisition of eMachines Inc., IDC said. (AP)
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