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Blimey! It didn't take long for a riposte to IDC's optimistic assessment of the PC industry. And from Gartner Dataquest, it's bitter rival, too.

Gartner releases its Q3 PC league tables today reckons sales were 15.2 per cent, substantially less than IDC's 18.3 per cent.

But worse, much worse, it reckons that much of the 'growth' was down to good old-fashioned channel-stuffing. In other words, much of what manufacturers are reporting as sales, is gathering dust on distributor, dealer and retailer shelves. The only way to get sell through going before Christmas would be to cut prices savagely.

But beyond the headline grabbing, is there any truth in Gartner Dataquest's assessment? If there is an big inventory overhang, then IDC has missed it. Fair dos, but then so has Compaq, the world's biggest PC maker which probably also has the world's biggest resale channels; it reports "normal" inventory levels, according to the FT.

Dave Atherton, MD at DABS Direct, the Bolton-based, mail-order reseller, was equally sceptical. "The report does not tally with my experience," he said. "I haven't seen any distress sales which you would expect if there was a problem with inventory."

Keith Warburton of the PCA, the trade group for the UK hardware channel, said inventory problems were due soon - but there would be a drought, rather than a glut. He noted reports indicating a looming shortfall in manufacturing capability for both hard drives and monitors, hitting at the end of this year and lasting into the first few months of 2001. ®

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