The PC industry gained another welcome sign that things may be heading in the right direction after IDC found that PC shipments were slightly stronger than expected in the second quarter, propped up by consumer spending and lower prices.
Strong interest in portable computers, including netbooks and laptops, helped mitigate the effects of the recession, though worldwide PC shipments still fell by 3.1 percent from the same quarter a year earlier, to 66 million units, according to IDC. IDC had originally projected a drop of 6.3 percent.
It was the second straight quarter that shipments declined less than had been forecast.
The decline resulted largely from continued slow spending by businesses, IDC said. Frozen IT budgets have restricted purchases of new equipment as companies remain focused on preserving cash. "As a result, the segment has not been as motivated by falling prices and new portable designs as the consumer segment," IDC said.
China was a bright spot, and Asia-Pacific as a whole (excluding Japan) returned to growth after several quarters of decline. Shipments in all other parts of the world contracted, with the US market slipping 3 percent.
IDC's numbers came a day after Intel and Dell both said that the PC market was showing signs of recovery. Intel reported a strong second quarter, driven mainly by consumer spending on chips. Michael Dell said that the PC industry had bottomed out and was showing signs of recovery. However, both cautioned that enterprise spending was weak and said it may pick up next year when companies look to upgrade to newer hardware and software.
Hit hardest by the slowdown in enterprise spending, Dell was the only major vendor whose worldwide shipments fell year-over-year.
Hewlett-Packard was the top PC vendor worldwide, shipping 13.1 million units, a 3.6 percent increase from last year, giving it almost 20 percent of the market. Dell came second with 9.1 million units, a 17.1 percent decline that left it with 13.7 percent market share.
Acer came in a close third, IDC said. Its shipments increased 23.7 percent to give it 12.7 percent of the market. Lenovo's shipments increased a modest 2.9 percent for fourth place, while Toshiba's shipments increased 10.6 percent to put it in the fifth spot.
In the US, Dell took the top spot with 4.17 million units shipped, narrowly beating HP's 4.13 million. Acer made the biggest US gains, thanks to strong sales of its popular netbooks. Its shipments jumped 51 percent to reach 2 million.
By contrast, fifth-placed Apple, which has criticised netbooks for having poor hardware and a lack of software, saw its shipments tumble 12.4 percent year-over-year to 1.2 million units, giving it 7.6 percent of the market.
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