While strong demand in Europe and Asia helped global PC shipments jump by 8.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2006, the US and Japan lagged far behind, according to IDC's latest Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.
The report found that, while Europe, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), Canada and Latin America continued to grow at a "healthy clip", shipments in the US and Japan continued to decline.
Slowing commercial sales held back some market leaders and had a " significant impact" on the US and Japanese markets.
Worldwide PC shipment growth of 8.7 per cent brought shipments to 65.6 million for the quarter, down from 9.1 per cent growth in the third quarter.
For all of 2006, PC shipments reached 228.6 million with growth of 10 per cent compared to 16 per cent in 2005.
"This was a busy quarter, with the release of Windows Vista for commercial users and the pending release for consumers on top of the ongoing transition to portables and a generally slowing market," said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.
"Add to that the changing pricing environment and segment dynamics and it was a very challenging quarter.
Dell saw its fourth-quarter shipments fall year on year and sequentially in the US and worldwide. Nevertheless, the company maintained its number one position in worldwide shipments for all of 2006, though by a narrow margin.
Meanwhile, companies such as HP, Acer, Toshiba and Apple benefited from a combination of strong retail and consumer sales, portable PC adoption, notably in the consumer segment, and aggressive pricing.
"The US market displayed an unseasonably weak performance, largely attributed to poor commercial demand, affecting vendors such as Dell and Lenovo," said David Daoud, manager of personal computing and PC tracker programmes at IDC.
"However, the consumer notebook market was solid, essentially benefiting vendors active in the retail sector. The channels were also relatively healthy, taking advantage of low component prices and healthy demand in the small business segment."
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