Europe Is The Bright Star In Worldwide PC Boom

IDC said the global PC market increased 15 percent, representing nearly 40 million units shipped.

In the ongoing race between Dell Computer and the Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell continued to pull slightly ahead, with Gartner giving Dell a 16.5 percent market share, while IDC reports 18.2 percent. Gartner lists HP at 14.3 percent, and IDC puts HP at 15.6 percent. The differences are explained by the fact that each market-research firm uses a different approach in developing its quarterly figures.

Loren Loverde, IDC director of Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, said the surge in European PC sales is largely attributed to the strong Euro and aggressive promotions. Acer's European sales were the standout, rising dramatically, albeit from a small base.

"Acer did that by focusing on low-cost systems," said Loverde in an interview. "Promotions helped, too--rebates, bundles with printers." Loverde noted that European sales were likely helped by the strong Euro, as buyers realized they could increase value by buying PCs made in the U.S. and overseas. "The strong Euro gives them better buying power," he said.

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Gartner also pointed out that, despite a 17 percent boom in units sold in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, actual revenues were flat, or even slightly down.

U.S. markets also showed strength, although not at the levels of the European market. IDC's Loverde said the U.S. market is positioned well for a continued recovery in the second half of 2004. "Seasonal buying trends should come into play," he said, "as back-to-school, public-sector, and consumer purchasing sustain market momentum."

IDC said the lone slow sector in the U.S. was in federal-government spending, which suffered in comparison with the previous year's quarter. Gartner cited the professional-replacement market as a key of the current upswing, but cautioned that it can't grow indefinitely.

As for Dell, the company continued its forward momentum and appears to continue to squeeze growing profits out of the fiercely competitive PC environment. On Friday, the firm raised its second-quarter profit prediction two cents, to 31 cents a share. Last year the firm earned 24 cents in the same quarter. Dell attributed the increase to "robust" enterprise activity.

IDC listed IBM in third place, followed by Fujitsu, Fujitsu/Siemens, and Acer. Precise figures aren't yet available from Gateway or eMachines, as those two firms carry out their merger.

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