August PC sales flatline: Inform

After the heady days of bumper PC sales in the first half of this year, the PC market hit its lowest level this year, according to August figures by market analyst Inform.

Sales were slightly down, half a per cent, on July figures, despite an average price drop of 3 per cent for PCs. In fact, falling prices only served to help decrease the overall market value, which dropped 4 per cent to an all-year low.

The top vendors are seemingly unaffected by the sluggish sales as they continue their present strategies to garner share from the white-box market. IBM remains the number one vendor, with an increase in market share of 5 per cent to 22 per cent. Compaq was close behind, up 7 per cent to 21 per cent. Likewise Hewlett-Packard is gaining on the ground it lost during July, posting 29 per cent growth and maintaining the number three position.

However, shipments of clone computers fell 18 per cent and the "other brands" segment of the market declined by 14 per cent.

According to Inform, the ongoing component shortage has also been responsible for the decline in sales. Traditional dealer and independent retail sales fell by 13 and 10 per cent respectively. The corporate channel increased sales by 3 per cent while mass-merchant sales also increased slightly.

Worldwide figures are somewhat different. Latest figures from Dataquest, a unit of Gartner, show worldwide personal computer shipments surpassed 33.9 million units in the third quarter of 2000, up 15.2 per cent over the same period last year.

However analysts have warned the market is being buoyed by vendors stockpiling within the channel and are predicting slow growth for the rest of the year.

"We suspect these relatively strong numbers in the third quarter reflect a buildup of channel inventory, and we do not believe the market can support the kind of growth these numbers would indicate," said Charles Smulders, principal analyst for Gartner Dataquest's Personal Computers Worldwide program.

"The fourth quarter could show slower unit growth, as upgrade cycles are deferred into 2001, and no revenue growth as vendors jockey to keep supply lines clear," Smulders said.

Globally, Compaq holds the overall top vendor spot with 4449 units shipped in Q3, followed by Dell, HP and IBM.

HP showed the largest increase in shipments amongst the big vendors. The company had continued success in the US retail space, taking advantage of the absence of IBM and Packard Bell, according to Gartner.

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