Dell Cuts HP Lead in PC Sales; Lenovo Share Climbs, Opens Distribution Center in Triad

Lenovo further steps up sales efforts with new distribution center in Triad. $10M center to employ 160 people.

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PC shipments increase.

Anemic U.S. growth didn't prevent computer makers from posting another double-digit gain in shipments worldwide in the first quarter, according to two technology research firms that both said the increase beat their forecasts.

IDC and Gartner Inc. on Wednesday also said Dell Inc.'s recent initiative to offer computers in retail stores is helping it gain ground on Hewlett-Packard Co., which wrestled the title of world's largest PC maker from Dell in late 2006.

Both firms ranked Dell the U.S. market leader, however, with about 31 percent of the market to HP's nearly 25 percent. Dell's largest manufacturing plant is located in Winston-Salem, N.C.

In third place globally is Taiwan-based Acer. Acer's global market share was 9.9 percent, up from 6.9 percent a year ago, IDC said. Acer's recent acquisition of U.S.-based Gateway lifted Acer past Lenovo, which is based in Morrisville, N.C., into that third spot.

Lenovo, which is based in Morrisville, was fourth, with a 6.9 percent share, up from 6.6 percent a year ago, according to IDC. Lenovo is ramping up its emphasis on consumer sales worldwide.

To further boost its sales efforts, Lenovo on Thursday opened a new distribution facility in the Triad. The $10 million facility will employ 160 people. It covers 200,000 square feet.

“I am delighted to welcome Lenovo to the Greensboro area,” said Dan Lynch, president of the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance. “A leading global PC maker, Lenovo is already playing a key part in our strategy to grow jobs locally in the fast-growing technology sector.”  

"Lenovo is committed to North Carolina, and we are pleased to be bringing jobs and economic investment to Guilford County," said Gerry Smith, senior vice president for Global Supply Chain at Lenovo. "Our new fulfillment center will help us enhance our competitiveness, help us deliver products to our customers in North America faster, and help us address a growing local demand for customized Lenovo products."

The PC business, meanwhile, continues to grow globally.

Even with growth in U.S. sales slowing to around 3 percent, overseas gains boosted global first-quarter PC shipments 14.6 percent, according to IDC, and to 12.3 percent by Gartner's count. That's because the U.S. accounted for just 23 percent of global shipments in the first quarter compared with 25 percent a year ago.

"Even if there is a particularly bad U.S. market, it's becoming a smaller piece of the global puzzle," said Bob O'Donnell, an IDC vice president.

IDC estimated Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP's global market share at 19.1 percent and Round Rock, Texas-based Dell's share at 15.7 percent. Gartner estimated an 18.3 percent share for HP, compared to 14.9 percent for Dell.

According to IDC, Apple Inc. claimed a 6 percent share of the U.S. computer market in the first quarter, while Gartner saw Apple with a 6.6 percent share. Both research firms ranked Apple fourth in U.S. market share after Dell, HP and Taiwan-based Acer Inc. Acer ranked third worldwide too.

Apple posted strong shipment growth in the United States at 25.1 percent, according to IDC, and 32.5 percent, according to Gartner.

"Apple experienced the strongest growth rate among the top five vendors in the U.S. market," Gartner said in its report, noting there were "indications" that Apple's appeal is growing in the professional market.

Apple did not rank among the top five makers in global sales.

Framingham, Mass.-based IDC and Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner measure sales differently, and their results usually differ.

The first-quarter numbers beat both firms' forecasts by greater than a percentage point.

"There were a lot of questions about whether the U.S. economy would impact other regions, and clearly the answer was 'No,'" said IDC's O'Donnell.

Portable computers for the consumer market drove much of the global increase, O'Donnell said.

"The notion of a PC used to be that you'd have one per household, and now it's one per person," O'Donnell said. "Notebook computers are really driving that."

IDC said shipments in January through March rose to 69.5 million, up from 60.6 million a year earlier. Gartner counted 71.1 million shipments in the first quarter, compared with 63.3 million in the year-ago period.

IDC said the sagging U.S. economy slowed the growth in U.S. computer shipments growth to 3.5 percent, compared with 8.8 percent in last year's fourth quarter. IDC also said last quarter's U.S. growth was the slowest since the fourth quarter of 2006, when the rate was flat.

Gartner put the latest quarter's growth at 3 percent.

The double-digit global first-quarter growth followed gains of nearly 17 percent in last year's third and fourth quarters.

Gartner said the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America posted the world's fastest growth rates last quarter, both about 19 percent, while sales in the region that includes the Middle East and Africa grew 14.9 percent.

The competition between HP and Dell for the title of world's biggest PC maker heated up in the first quarter, in part because of Dell's recent success selling through large retail chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Staples Inc. - a departure from Dell's original direct-to-customer model.

Both firms said Dell saw more growth in shipments. IDC put Dell's first-quarter growth at 21.6 percent, while Gartner pegged it at 21.8 percent

HP's shipments grew 17.4 percent by IDC's count and 17.5 percent by Gartner's.

Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said Dell has enjoyed robust growth because of its retail channel initiative, while HP has been hurt by excess inventory that could linger throughout the current quarter.

Both research firms ranked Japan-based Toshiba Corp. fifth, with a roughly 4 percent share.


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