IDC: Low-Cost Notebooks Helped Worldwide PC Market Grow in Q3

The ever-growing number of low-cost, ultraportable notebooks helped the worldwide PC market grow by 15 percent in the third quarter of 2008, but those numbers also reflected the growing impact of the financial crisis on the market. HP and Dell remained the two top suppliers of desktops and notebooks, while Acer and Apple also posted strong PC shipment numbers.

The growing presence of low-cost notebooks, such as the Asus Eee PC and the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, helped the worldwide PC market grow by double digits in the third quarter of 2008, but the growing financial crisis in the United States is continuing to have an impact, according to IDC.

For the third quarter, worldwide PC shipments increased 15.8 percent compared to a year ago, but growth was slower than IDC analysts first predicted. Total desktop and notebook shipments for the third quarter topped 80 million units. Hewlett-Packard dominated all other vendors when it came to worldwide shipments, but Dell still retained the No. 1 spot in the United States. Acer and Apple also posted strong results.

While low-cost, ultraportable laptops helped increase overall shipments during the quarter, the stains on the U.S. economy meant that many consumers and commercial operations held off spending on new desktops and notebooks. Those results slowed down the market and brought down IDC's numbers.

"The commercial segment has been constrained due to tight IT budgets, while back-to-school spending helped somewhat in maintaining momentum," Doug Bell, an analyst with IDC, wrote in the report. "IDC expects the ongoing economic woes in the U.S. to further impact consumer and commercial PC spending during the holiday season."

IDC released its latest results on Oct. 15. The day before, Gartner released its own figures that showed the PC market grew 15 percent during the quarter. The Gartner results also reflected the growing impact of low-cost PCs.

"In EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa], we saw these notebooks driving a little bit of volume and also pulling down ASPs [average selling prices] a little bit, so the real question is 'is this sustainable?'" said Leslie Fiering, an analyst with Gartner.

In the worldwide market, HP maintained its dominance and shipped 15 million PCs during the third-quarter of 2008, an increase of nearly 15 percent from a year ago. Dell finished second with 11.3 million shipments, an increase of 11.4 percent. Acer, which has taken advantage of both emerging and matures markets, with a mixture of low-cost and midrange laptops, saw its shipments increase 86 percent for a total of 10 million units.

Lenovo was fourth with nearly six million PCs shipped during the quarter, while Toshiba shipped 3.7 million desktops and notebooks and placed fifth.

In the United States, Dell shipped 5.3 million PCs, while HP shipped 4.6 million. Apple, which just introduced new Macs this week, increased its shipments by 32 percent for a total of 1.7 million units. Apple controlled nearly 10 percent of the U.S. market during the quarter.

Acer also posted solid number in the United States and the Taiwanese company increased its U.S. shipments by 112 percent for a total of 1.5 million units during the third quarter. Toshiba ranked fifth and shipped about 978,000 PCs. Total PC shipments in the United States for the third quarter topped 18 million units.