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Analyst postpones PC industry recovery

Dell takes a tumble

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Don't get too optimistic about a potential recovery in the global PC market.

Gartner said Thursday that while there are signs the PC channel is restocking its inventory following an abysmal first quarter, this should not be taken as a revival in sales.

Research director George Shiffle said: "[It] should not be interpreted as a recovery in PC end-user demand; it's still unclear if the global PC market has hit the bottom."

Adding to the pain, netbooks are driving what sales there are, which is bad news for profits and margins. Gartner anticipates a "sharp decline" in industry revenue due to the low prices of netbooks.

Netbooks are putting the squeeze in particular on what Gartner called "low-priced mobile PCs". Gartner expects average selling prices will fall by up to a fifth.

Worldwide PC shipments fell 6.5 per cent during the first quarter of 2009, to 67.2 million units compared to the same time last year, according to Gartner's preliminary stats.

Hewlett-Packard came out on top in percentage of PCs shipped worldwide at 19.8 - up 2.6 per cent compared to last year. Low-priced mobile PCs helped drive HP's growth, Gartner said.

Dell and Acer essentially tied for second, with 0.1 percentage points separating them. Dell was hit by its heavy reliance on the business market, while Acer was buoyed thanks to shipments of low-priced mobile PCs in EMEA and the US.

HP took the number-one position in the US for the first time since 2001, thanks to sales of consumer PCs and improved channel programs in the business market. HP displaced Dell, whose market share tumbled 16 percentage points.

Gartner said Dell had been "severely challenged by tough competition in the retail space" and the weak professional market. Again, Acer came in a close third thanks to growth in low-priced mobile PCs.

You can read Gartner's full postmortem here. ®

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