By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Dell once again overtook Hewlett-Packard as the No. 1 worldwide PC vendor and maintained its dominance in the U.S. market during the first quarter of 2003, according to International Data Corp and Gartner.
Dell had lost its top worldwide position to HP the previous quarter, but its direct sales model and steady growth gave it the edge this year, according to IDC. In the U.S. market, both firms listed the top vendors as Dell, HP, IBM, Gateway and Toshiba, in order.
Toshiba's appearance was the other surprise for the first quarter. IDC and Gartner quarterly reports placed Toshiba on its worldwide and U.S. top five-vendor list, at the expense of Apple, which fell off the list for the first time in several years. Toshiba took advantage of its position as leading notebook computer supplier to move up the lists.
The debut of Toshiba in the top five heralds the era of mobile computing, said Roger Kay, IDC's client computing director. "The rise of a company that focuses nearly exclusively on notebooks gives a clear and early reading of just how strong the shift from desktops to notebooks was this quarter."
IDC said Toshiba, at No. 5, shipped 380,000 units, up 23.9 percent, and Gartner indicated it shipped 383,600 for a 24.6 percent increase. This growth gave Toshiba the honor of joining Dell as the only vendors to post gains during the first quarter.
The mobile computing category also gave a boost to the other vendors on the list. Gartner confirmed that mobile product sales continued to outpace those of desktop PCs during the first quarter, but the sales increases were not attributed to the introduction of the Tablet PC and Intel Centrino mobile processor. These were the two highest profile additions to the mobile category during the last six months, but high prices and the fact that they are targeted toward the underperforming corporate market limited their impact, said Charles Smulders, Gartner's computing platforms worldwide group VP.
Overall the vendors performed a bit better than expected.
Gartner reported 11.8 million units shipped in the United States during the first quarter of 2003, up 7.7 percent from the same period in 2002. IDC stated 11.7 million units shipped for a 1.5-percent increase. The U.S. market performed better than expected, according to both firms, with IDC saying the year over year increase was about 2 percent higher than expected. Gartner attributed this to strong, yet unexpected, consumer desktop sales during the first quarter.
IDC said Dell performed well in the small and medium business segments and managed to marginally increase its sales to U.S. consumers during the quarter. HP's aggressive pricing and sales of its new Media Center PCs were a benefit, but not enough to stop its market share from falling slightly. Toshiba enjoyed its third straight quarter of double-digit growth. IBM, which is primarily in the notebook market, held its own during the quarter. This was enough to push it past Gateway, which suffered from the industry's ongoing price battle and internal financial issues that have led to store closings and layoffs.
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