Official figures on worldwide PC shipments for 2001 have been described as a 'bloodbath'.
For only the second time in the history of the PC market, worldwide shipments, which totalled 128 million units in 2001, dropped 4.6 per cent over the previous year, while shipments in the US reached 44 million units, an 11.1 per cent decline, according to analyst firm Gartner.
The only other time was in 1985, when Gartner reported that worldwide shipments fell by 2.3 per cent and US sales plummeted by nearly 22 per cent.
Gartner analyst Charles Smulders said: "While there is a mood of optimism in the industry having made it through the bloodbath that was 2001, evidence for an immediate improvement in the first quarter of 2002 is far from clear."
Economic conditions, combined with saturation issues in developed markets, continue to impact PC market growth rates. Performance over delivery on the PC platform is allowing existing users to postpone PC upgrades, according to Gartner.
On the positive side, Smulders pointed out that it does not appear that the market is getting worse. "We do not expect to see a significant upturn in growth until the fourth quarter of 2002," he said.
Gartner predicted that five of the eight regional markets - the US, western Europe, Japan, Canada and Latin America - would show a year-over-year decline in the fourth quarter of 2001, while Asia-Pacific, central and Eastern Europe and Middle East and Africa are expected to show modest growth.
Worldwide, the top five spots, which account for 42 per cent of the market, went to Dell, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, IBM and NEC.
Dell was the exception in last year's downturn, as the company grew 18.3 per cent and moved past Compaq as the number one, with 17 million PCs shipped. All other top-tier vendors saw double-digit declines, Gartner said.
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