Looking for a Pulse in the PC Market

Gartner Dataquest predicted that five of the eight regional PC markets would show a year-over-year decline in the fourth quarter of 2001, but the news isn’t all bad.

In Latin America, which along with Canada, Japan, Western Europe and the United States was expected to see a decline in the fourth quarter, shipments declined 4.5 percent. But the region did receive a slight boost from Mexico, which grew 6.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2000.

“Mexico’s PC performance in the fourth quarter was beyond expectations considering the country’s slowing economy. There was strong demand for the top-tier international vendors, and local vendor Lanix, especially from the government sector. It’s early to suggest that the PC industry in Mexico is in the fast track for recovery, but this certainly is a good sign,” said Luis Anavitarte, vice president and research director for Gartner Dataquest’s Latin America group.

Compaq’s shipments in Latin America declined 12.2 percent in 2001, but it still shipped more than three times as many units as its closest competitor. Dell showed the strongest growth among the top-tier vendors, as shipments increased 36.6 percent.

The consumer and business segments of the market, predictably, both had slower growth rates compared to the 1999 to 2000 period. In 2001, the Latin American home PC market grew 6 percent, compared to 77 percent in 2000. The professional segment grew 9 percent in 2001 compared to 34 percent growth in 2000.

Brazil continues to be the No. 1 country in the Latin American region with PC shipments of nearly 3.3 million units, an 18 percent increase from 2000. Local vendors did especially well in Brazil in the second half of 2001. Local vendor Metron was the No. 1 vendor in the country in both the third and fourth quarter. Itautec finished the fourth quarter as the No. 2 vendor in the country. Other local players, Procomp, Alaska, Lanix and Olidata, also grew at the expense of some of the top-tier vendors in their respective markets.

Mexico was the No. 2 country as shipments totaled 1.85 million units, a 2 percent increase from the previous year. The Andean region, especially the countries of Colombia, Peru and Venezuela, consumed 728,000 units, growing 22 percent in the period.

Notebook PC shipments totaled 503,249 units in Latin America in 2001, posting an overall decline of 1.7 percent. HP, Dell and Toshiba had good performances in the notebook PC market, as their shipments during this period increased 186, 98 and 32 percent. Mexico was the top market for notebook consumption, accounting for 35 percent of the market in Latin America, with 177,185 units, a 3.9 percent increase from 2000.

Dataquest has also released preliminary numbers for the Australian PC market, which has suffered two consecutive quarters of double-digit negative growth. The Australian market showed year on year growth for the fourth quarter of 5.9 percent, and the quarter-on-quarter growth rate compared to the previous year increased at a rate of 10.9 percent.

“The PC market in Australia is still fundamentally weak,” said Andy Woo, PC analyst for Gartner’s Dataquest. “As a result of the current business climate, end users are extending the use of PCs longer than ever before. The market is basically in ‘replacement mode’ and vendors are finding it tougher to penetrate new markets or opportunities.”

Woo said the overall findings are “encouraging.” Seasonal buying from education and government markets, a growing whitebox segment and better than expected consumer sentiment during the fourth quarter contributed to the overall growth in Q4.

Compaq regained the No. 1 spot in Australia marginally from Dell, however year-on-year growth rates for Compaq declined by 11.9 percent. Dell slipped back into second spot with a year-on-year growth rate of 54.2 percent, albeit from a smaller base in the same period 2000. HP also recorded year-on-year growth of 17.8 percent, capitalizing on the demise of IBM from the home market.

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