HP Surpasses Dell in Q4 PC Shipments

In IDC and Gartner reports, HP squeaked past Dell in fourth-quarter PC shipments, but Dell still came out on top for the year.

Hewlett-Packard Co. overtook Dell Computer Corp. in fourth-quarter PC shipments, analysts concluded Wednesday, although their figures have Dell coming out on top for 2003 as a whole.

Reports released by both International Data Corp., of Framingham, Mass., and Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn., indicate the HP squeaked past Dell late in the year. IDC reported that HP shipped 7.52 million PCs worldwide during the fourth quarter; Dell, meanwhile, shipped 7.24 million PCs worldwide during the fourth quarter, IDC estimated. Gartner backed IDCs claims, but did not release fourth-quarter PC sales numbers to support its findings.

/zimages/3/28571.gifSee also "HP Sets Record With $2.5B in Linux-Based Revenue."

In any case, both tallies are preliminary, and both companies will release their final assessments in the coming weeks. However, analysts for both IDC and Gartner safely concluded that the dogfight benefited consumers through price competition and capped off a solid holiday season for the PC industry in general. The sales figures for both companies estimates included desktops, mobile systems and servers based on 32-bit X86-compatible chips.

"It was a good finish to a great year," Roger Kay, vice president of client computing at IDC, said in a statement. "Price attracted buyers at holiday time, and vendors like eMachines and HP benefited from consumer activity at retail. Although the majors took in the richest harvest, even non-branded vendors managed to grow share. IBMs performance was reflective of a recovering enterprise sector."

For the year, however, Dell came out on top. Worldwide, Dell sold 25.8 million PCs in 2003, according to IDC—25.3 million PCs according to Gartners numbers. IDC estimated that HP shipped 25.0 million PCs in 2003; Gartner estimated the company shipped 24.23 million PCs.

During 2003, about 152.6 million PCs were shipped worldwide, IDC said; Gartner counted 168.9 million PCs sold.

In the United States, Dell again came out on top according to IDC, shipping 15.9 million PCs during 2003; Gartner said Dell shipped 16.3 million PCs in the United States. Both IDC and Gartner agreed that Dells market share grew considerably. Gartner said it grew from 25.3 percent in 2002 to 27.6 percent in 2003. IDC was even more enthusiastic, claiming that Dells U.S. PC market share during 2003 leapt from 28.0 percent to 30.9 percent.

In total, IDC estimated that 44.6 million PCs were sold in the United States, a jump of 15.2 percent from last year. IDCs top five vendors—HP, Dell, IBM, Fujitsu/Fujitsu-Siemens and Toshiba—all experienced gains of between 15 percent and 23 percent. Gartner estimated that 48.4 million PCs were sold during the quarter; the same PC companies topped Gartners sales list.

Both IDC and Gartner noted that Dell grew sharply during 2003. While all other vendors maintained a relatively flat market share, IDC estimated that Dells market share climbed from 15.1 percent to 16.9 percent, while Gartner said that Dells share increased from 13.2 percent to 15.0 percent on a worldwide basis. Dells increases came at the expense of second-tier PC vendors, the companies said.

"Strong consumer demand, robust notebook growth and falling prices were the three key driving forces for shipment growth in 2003," Charles Smulders, vice president of Gartners Computing Platforms Worldwide group, said in a statement. "The professional market also showed positive growth, but it was still slow progress. In the U.S. market, enterprise buyers were still cautious on IT spending, but they did show gradual increases in purchases in the second half of the year."