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Quarterly figures show global shipments of PCs rose nearly 13 per cent with Dell still leading the way among PC vendors.

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker survey, released on Thursday, illustrates solid growth for the personal computer market, although the figures are slightly down on the headline growth of 15.9 per cent in 2005.

Nearly all geographical regions were in line or close to first quarter forecasts, according to IDC, and Dell remains the leading PC vendor despite slow growth in the US.

IDC's PC Tracker director Loren Loverde said global figures show continuing strong demand. "Dell's relatively slow growth may set the stage for more aggressive pricing in coming quarters. While this would help drive volumes, it would not help profitability," she warned.

As reported last year, IDC reiterated that portable computers are still driving the market across all regions, and consumer growth appeared relatively strong following the holiday season.

In the US, increasing laptop adoption and aggressive competition throughout the consumer segment kept the market afloat. The PC market was lower than the expected 6.7 per cent figure forecast, and ended up averaging 5.3 per cent year-on-year growth.

IDC vice president Bob O'Donnell said both desktop and notebook PC shipments in the US grew less than expected. "This quarter saw some important shifts in market share with HP and Gateway outperforming the market and gaining share, while Dell sales were relatively flat, and Lenovo slipped out of the [US] top five," he said.

IDC analysts again highlighted portable PC popularity in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region as assisting overall demand. EMEA maintained healthy growth at around 16 per cent in the first quarter. Consumer and business demand for laptops rose above 30 per cent while desktop growth was roughly 8 per cent, according to IDC.

In the Asia and Pacific region, IDC reckons lunar New Year celebrations contributed to an expected seasonal sequential decline in volume, although year-on-year growth was a robust 20 per cent. Demand was strong in China and Korea and analysts said Thailand and the Philippines enjoyed continued demand despite some political disruption.

In Japan, growth slowed from 9 per cent in 2005 as expected, but exceeded expectations of 2 per cent first quarter growth. The IDC researchers expect increasing consumer demand there later this year.

Dell remains the world market leader with over 9.6m shipments equalling 18 per cent of global market share. A decline in US growth from almost nine per cent to less than one per cent shows the firm may be losing momentum.

HP had a strong quarter: growing nearly twice the market rate worldwide. IDC said the company's efforts to boost volumes with channel partners appear to be paying off. First quarter shipments stood at 8.7m. Third place Lenovo's growth was just behind the market pace at 11 per cent. Half of its 3.4m shipments were in the Asian region.

In rank order, the remaining global players for the first quarter were Acer, Fujitsu/Fujitsu Siemens, Gateway, Toshiba, and Apple Computers.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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