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PC Shipments Fall Short of Forecasts in Third Quarter

Global personal-computer shipments rose 11 percent in the third quarter, a slowdown from the previous period, as U.S. consumers put off back-to-school purchases, according to research firm IDC.

Hewlett-Packard Co. held onto its top spot, though its market share slipped to 17.6 percent from 19.6 percent a year earlier, IDC said today in a statement. Acer Inc. and Dell Inc. ranked second and third. In the second quarter, industrywide shipments rose 22 percent, IDC said in July.

Consumer sales were “tepid,” compared with previous third quarters, when households bought new machines for school, IDC said. By contrast, business demand climbed as companies sought to replace aging technology and upgrade to Microsoft Corp.’s recently released Windows 7 operating system. PC buying was disappointing in the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia, said Jay Chou, an analyst at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC.

“Even in China, consumers were lukewarm early in the third quarter,” Chou said in an interview. Some Chinese shoppers may have been waiting to buy computers until the first week in October, a national holiday, he said. Global shipments picked up in September, he said.

Gartner Numbers

Worldwide third-quarter PC shipments of 89.7 million came in below IDC’s forecast. Shipments in the U.S. increased 3.8 percent, the company said. Another research firm, Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc., put worldwide PC growth at 7.6 percent, below its forecast of 12.7 percent.

Intel Corp. Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini gave an upbeat outlook for the industry yesterday after delivering financial results, saying the PC market is still on course to grow 18 percent this year. He said he doesn’t anticipate a double-dip recession and sees 2011 as being a “pretty good” year for computer sales.

The popularity of Apple Inc.’s iPad and the arrival of other tablet computers won’t undermine PC demand, Otellini said. Tablets may cut into PC sales “at the margin,” he said.

Apple’s U.S. computer shipments increased 24 percent, making it the No. 3 PC supplier in the country after HP and Dell Inc., IDC said. The iPad has created a “halo effect” that has boosted Mac sales, the research firm said.

Globally, Acer had 13 percent of the market, pushing Dell to third place, IDC said. Round Rock, Texas-based Dell had 12.4 percent. Both companies gained market share compared with a year ago. Gartner’s worldwide rankings were the same as IDC’s, with Lenovo Group Ltd. and AsusTek Computer Inc. rounding out the top five.

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