PC Sales Grow in 4Q

Personal computer (PC) shipments for the fourth quarter were disappointing, missing IDC estimates, although growing 2.7% during the quarter. As expected, Apple Inc’s (AAPL) iPad was partially to blame, diverting dollars away from the more traditional desktop and notebook markets.

Both market research firms Gartner and IDC are of the opinion that new PC sales rose in the fourth quarter although not as strongly as they had expected.

Total PC shipments were estimated at 92 million by IDC, or an increase of 2.7% and 93 million by Gartner, or an increase of 3.1%.

IDC and Gartner also differed slightly in their full-year estimations. While IDC arrived at 346.2 million, Gartner pegged it at 350.9 million. IDC analyst David Daoud seemed to think that the iPad has emerged as a viable alternative to traditional PCs, quoting the 7.5 million units sold by Apple up to September 25.

Gartner found Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) to be the top PC supplier globally, with a market share of 18.8%, which declined from 19.6% in the fourth quarter of 2009. Acer was the second-highest with a 12.7% share, closely followed by Dell Inc. (DELL) with an 11.6% share. The IDC rankings were slightly different, with Dell taking the number 2 spot and Acer coming in at number 3.

Further, analysts also believe that growth in the PC market during the fourth quarter of 2010 was driven by steady growth in the professional market, mainly attributable to replacement purchases. However, the PC market has returned to the double-digit growth phase after a year-long recession in 2009.

However, competition among industry players is expected to intensify in 2011, with every major player introducing new products to grab additional marketshare.

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