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PC sales climb, Centrino builds slowly

No major upturn

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Personal computer sales were better than expected in the first quarter, according to figures from Gartner, with mobile PCs expected to draw continued interest.

Preliminary numbers from the research house showed that worldwide PC shipments rose 6 percent in the first quarter of 2003. The Gartner report, "Preliminary 1Q03 PC Market Results-Slightly Better than Expected," said that total shipments reached 34.5 million units.

Charles Smulders, vice president of Gartner's computing platforms worldwide group, said the figures were slightly better than the researchers had expected but do not indicate a major upturn. Better sales were mostly fuelled by price cuts, and factors like the war in Iraq dampened performance at the end of March.

Hewlett-Packard, which held on to the number one spot for PC shipments during 2002, is now firmly in second place behind industry leader Dell. While HP shipments fell nearly 6 percent over the previous year, Dell saw its worldwide shipments soar 24 percent over the same quarter in 2002 and attained nearly 17 percent market share. HP's market share is now 15.6 percent, and IBM is a distant third with 5.4 percent.

Gartner said Dell performed particularly well in the UK, France, Germany and Japan, while HP suffered in the United States and EMEA regions. "The merger with Compaq continues to be a work in progress," Gartner wrote, but its analysts said they do see advances being made.

The analysts said that interest is growing in mobile PCs, where sales are increasing faster than in the standard desktop PC segment. Gartner believes that tablet PCs and especially the launch of the Centrino mobile platform from Intel are drawing much more attention to mobile PCs, although Centrino is not yet a major factor in driving shipments.

Smulders said that it will take time for the corporate market, which is the first target for sales of Centrino, to adopt and integrate the technology into enterprise IT systems. "The marketing campaign around Centrino, however, is raising general awareness of the benefits of wireless mobile form factors," Smulders said.

Intel has undertaken a USD300 million advertising campaign to promote Centrino, which is being integrated into notebook computers to let people connect to the Internet or their corporate network without plugging in.

Dell, IBM, HP, Toshiba and other major vendors have already introduced models that incorporate Centrino, and research firm IDC has predicted that within a year, most notebooks will ship with Centrino as standard. © ENN

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