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2004 U.S. PC Sales Growth Strong

U.S. computer shipments nicked the double-digit growth mark in 2004 with Dell continuing to stretch its lead as the nation’s No. 1 computer supplier.

International Data Corp.’s preliminary 2004 shipment report stated that the industry grew 10.5 percent on 58.3 million units shipped in 2004, with fellow research firm Gartner posting a slightly lower 8.3 percent increase on 62.3 million units shipped. The gap is due to differing methods of compiling the data.

Both companies had Dell’s shipments growing about 18 percent last year, giving the vendor 31 percent of the market, IDC, or 27.7 percent, Gartner. Hewlett-Packard posted a healthy 7 percent jump on both firm’s charts.

Charles Smulders, computing platforms VP for Gartner’s worldwide group, based in Stamford, Conn., said there was some weakness in the U.S. market, but overall shipments were in line with projections.

IDC, based in Framingham, Mass., cited the same weak U.S. growth, particularly in the fourth quarter, but noted this was due to difficult year-to-year comparison with the fourth quarter 2003, which was very strong.

Dell Computer’s CEO Michael Dell said at last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that worldwide PC growth for this year is in the 10 percent range, and he expects his company to slightly outpace the industry.

“Operating margins have generally been steady to slightly improving. I think our margins will be healthy,” he added.

2004 U.S. PC Shipments

(IDC preliminary results, in thousands of units)

2004 U.S. PC Shipments

( Gartner Dataquest forecast, in thousands of units)