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Dell tops up PC market in 2003

We sell TVs too, you know

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The good news is that the PC market grew in 2003; the bad news, for the vendors, is that it took intense price cuts to push shipments higher.

That's the word from analyst firm Gartner, which this week released a preliminary take on worldwide PC sales. In total, vendors shipped 169 million units in 2003 - an 11 percent increase year-on-year. The fourth quarter enjoyed a similar jump - 12 percent - over last year's Q4.

"Strong consumer demand, robust notebook growth and falling prices were the three key driving forces for shipment growth in 2003," said Charles Smulders, vice president of Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group. "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."

Dell won out over HP in 2003 as the the worldwide sales leader, but HP took the top spot in the fourth quarter. The end of the year tends to benefit PC sellers with a greater consumer focus, and this proved to be the case for HP, according to Gartner.

All vendors, however, lost out in a way by cutting costs so that consumers could enjoy some cheap holiday cheer.

In 2003, Dell took 15 percent of the worldwide market with 26 percent growth. HP grew at a much slower clip - 12 percent - and captured 14 percent of the total market. IBM followed at 5 percent, Fujitsu Siemens grabbed 3.8 percent and Toshiba claimed 2.9 percent. Apple fell in with the white box makers somewhere in the "other" category, which accounts for 59 percent of the market.

In the US, the PC market is bit more volatile. Dell claimed 28 percent of the market with 23 percent growth, followed by HP with 19 percent of the market and 16 percent growth. IBM again took the third spot at 5 percent market share.

Gateway was the big loser in the US for 2003. It fell to 3.5 percent market share, as its PC business shrank 26 percent. Apple also fell slightly - .5 percent - to hold 2.9 percent of the market. So much for the switcher campaign.

But on Apple's side is one of the biggest trends in 2003 - the move of PC makers into the consumer electronics space. Apple is the envy of all the big boys with the iPod, while Dell, HP and Gateway have their TV thing going on now.

"The fourth quarter of 2003 was a turning point for several large PC vendors as they entered the computer electronics space, with a portfolio of products that bridged the PC and consumer electronics markets, such as Media Center PC and consumer electronic devices, such as LCD TVs," Smulders said. ®

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