Japanese buy PCs like they're hot cakes

Sales up 28 per cent

Japan saw a solid 28 per cent rise in PC sales from April to September, pushing domestic PC shipments to record levels.

More than 5.6 million units were shipped during the period, buoyed by both consumer and business markets. Retail sales were particularly strong - with first time Japanese PC buyers flocking to get online at home, according to industry body the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association.

The group, made up of 17 PC manufacturers, was so chuffed with the figures it upped its forecasts for the full year ending March 2001 to 12 million units. This is 21 per cent higher than the previous year, and tops its former forecast of 11.5 million.

For the quarter from July to September, sales rose 23 per cent to 2.9 million units - weaker than Q2's 35 per cent growth spurt. Domestic shipments for the third quarter were valued at ¥660 billion ($6.16 billion), up 11 per cent on the previous year.

Just 40 per cent of Japanese households currently have a PC, compared to 70-80 per cent in the US, so growth is expected to keep rising in this area for the next three to five years.

"The (July-September) figure is a touch lower than we had expected but it continued to mark double-digit increases and we can call this growth quite favourable," said Hitoshi Kuriyama, a senior analyst at Merrill Lynch, cited by Reuters.

NEC holds the biggest share of the domestic PC market in Japan with 25.9 per cent, according to a survey by Multimedia Research Institute. Fujitsu has 20 per cent, while IBM has 9.8 per cent. ®

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