HP Keeps PC Market Lead Over Dell in 1Q

Hewlett-Packard Co. maintained its lead over Dell Inc. in the worldwide personal-computer market as industry shipments continued to grow in the first quarter, according to reports released Wednesday by two top technology research firms.

IDC and Gartner Inc. produced slightly different results on the industry's growth and vendor rankings during the quarter, but both depicted this: a fiercely competitive market with No. 1-ranked HP beating No. 2-ranked Dell by about 4 percentage points while their smaller rivals jockeyed for third place.

After three quarters of single-digit growth, global PC shipments grew by 10.9 percent in the first quarter, according to IDC, which expects double-digit growth to continue for the next two years. Gartner registered a 9 percent increase.

"The strong first quarter is a good indicator of the health of the industry," said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's worldwide quarterly PC tracker.

Notebook computers and strong consumer demand continued to be the primary drivers for the growth, analysts said. The January release of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Vista operating system also gave a small boost.

HP, which supplanted Dell as the world leader in PC shipments in the third quarter of 2006, gained momentum in the first quarter with strength in the retail and consumer segments, analysts said.

Dell, meanwhile, was hampered by internal reorganization and slow PC sales in the U.S. and business markets -- both historical strongholds for Dell.

Gartner and IDC pegged HP's worldwide market share at 18 to 19 percent, and Dell at 14 to 15 percent.

In the U.S., HP continued to chip away at Dell's dominance, leaving Dell with a 27-28 percent share, compared to HP's 24-26 percent share. In the year-ago quarter, Dell's share in the U.S. market was 32-34 percent, compared to HP's 20-21 percent.

Under IDC's measure, China's Lenovo Group Ltd. tied Taiwan-based Acer Inc. for third place in worldwide shipments, each achieving a 6.7 percent slice of the market. Gartner's found Acer with a slight lead over Lenovo for the first time, garnering a 6.8 percent share compared to Lenovo's 6.3 percent.

Japan-based Toshiba Corp. rounded out the top five with a 4 percent market share, according to both firms.

Though Round Rock, Texas-based Dell has been losing ground to Palo-Alto based HP in recent quarters, Dell still claimed the crown for being the world's leading PC provider for the full year of 2006.

"But if current trends continue," Loverde said, "it'll go to HP for the current year."


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