Gartner Dataquest Says Worldwide PC Market Growth Was Less Than 15 Percent in 2000

Because of slowed growth during the fourth quarter of 2000, the worldwide personal computer industry posted moderate gains for the year, according to preliminary results from Dataquest Inc., a unit of GartnerGroup. Worldwide PC shipments totaled 134.7 million units in 2000, an increase of 14.5 percent over 1999 shipments. PC shipments in the United States grew 10.3 percent in 2000.

"The PC industry was hurt by a sluggish 2000 fourth quarter when worldwide PC shipments increased just 10 percent and U.S. shipments increased 6.4 percent," comments Charles Smulders, principal analyst of Gartner Dataquest's Computing Platform Worldwide group. "The downturn in growth is concrete evidence that saturation in key segments is playing an increasingly important role in overall market growth, with new shipments unable to mask the effects of economic cycles on replacement buying.

"The timing of the economic downturn was unfortunate for the industry in the sense that it coincided with the largest home sales quarter, a segment that is typically the fastest to respond to economic uncertainty. However, preliminary estimates also point to a weak professional market performance as well."

Dell and HP were the only top-tier vendors to experience growth rates above the industry average both worldwide and in the United States. Some of Dell's success was attributed to its aggressive pricing strategy during the quarter. Gartner Dataquest analysts said HP continued to leverage its strong consumer franchise and solid support of the retail channel.

"While lower growth rates during the fourth quarter last year made for a disappointing quarter for the industry, it does help allay some of the fears of inventory overhang going into the first quarter of 2001, particularly in the U.S. retail market," Mr. Smulders notes.

"This is better news for the industry, both because it suggests that vendors were able to take some action to stem and reduce the build up evident in the early part of the quarter, and the anticipated sell off of excess finished goods' impact on 2001 first quarter shipments should be less pronounced."