Mobile PC Sales Drive Strong U.S. PC Growth: Gartner

U.S.-based businesses and consumers purchased a total of 17.4 million PCs during the third quarter of 2008, up 4.6 percent over the 16.6 million sold during the same period last year, according to a preliminary report released by Gartner on Tuesday.

The Gartner PC numbers includes desktop PCs, mobile PCs, and x86-based servers.

Key to that growth is a continuing increase in mobile PC sales which more than offsets ongoing declines in desktop PC sales, said Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group.

Kitagawa said she expects that mobile PC shipments over the next three quarters will increase about 20 percent year-over-year, compared to an 8-percent to 12-percent decline in desktop PC sales.

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Growth in worldwide mobile PC sales will continued to be fueled by falling average selling prices, which are expected to decline an average of 2 percent per quarter over the next four quarters, Kitagawa said.

In the U.S., Dell remains the leading PC vendor with sales of 5.1 million units during the third quarter. That represents a 6.0 percent growth over last year, and while that is below the growth it has experienced over the past few quarters, it still gives the vendor a 29.5-percent market share.

Hewlett-Packard came in second with shipments of 4.5 million PCs, up 4.4 percent from last year. HP's market share of 25.7 percent remained unchanged over last year, Gartner said.

Rounding out the top five are Apple, which sold 1.6 million PCs; Acer, which sold 1.5 million PCs, or 11.2 more than last year; and Toshiba, which sold about 1.0 million PCs, up 3.6 percent.

The Acer numbers included Gateway's consumer shipments and Packard Bell shipments.

Apple grew the fastest of the top-five vendors, with shipments up nearly 30 percent compared to last year, Gartner said.

While all of the top-five vendors in the U.S. saw a growth in shipments over last year, it was at the expense of the smaller vendors who collectively saw their shipments fall 7.1 percent compared to last year.

Worldwide, HP is the market leader thanks to its shipping 14.8 million PCs during the quarter. It was followed by Dell at 11.0 million, Acer at 10.4 million, Lenovo at 5.9 million, and Toshiba at 3.7 million. Acer enjoyed the fastest growth over the year, according to Gartner, and is now the largest supplier to the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) market.

Desktop PC virtualization has yet to have a measurable impact on PC sales, a situation expected to continue for some time, Kitagawa said.

"If there's any impact, it will be in the professional desktop market," she said.