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March 13, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:52pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Worldwide growth of the personal computer industry slowed markedly during 1996, according to market watchers International Data Corp (IDC) and Dataquest Inc. IDC reported that 1996 worldwide unit shipments rose to 68.4m, up 16% from 1995, marking the first year since 1991 in which sales did not increase by at least 20%. Dataquest’s estimate of worldwide growth was slightly higher, at 18%, with 70.9m units shipping. Despite the relatively disappointing growth rate, the industry’s profitability rates improved during 1996, due in part to a dramatic decline in the cost of personal computer components, and in particular, memory chips. Both research companies placed the top five personal computer vendors in the same order, with Compaq Computer Corp as the global market leader for the third consecutive year. IDC estimated Compaq’s market share as 10.3%, up from 9.8% in 1995, with annual growth of 22.2%, while Dataquest gave it a 10.1% market share, up from 10.0% in 1995 and an annual growth rate of 18.5%. A strong performance in the market during 1996 boosted IBM Corp’s worldwide share to 8.9%, according to IDC, and 8.6%, according to Dataquest, from 1995 figures of 8.1% and 7.9% respectively. IDC gave IBM’s annual growth rate as 27.0%, Dataquest estimated it as 27.9%, highlighting that 1996 was the first year since 1993 when IBM’s market share of the worldwide personal computer industry showed an increase.

General decline in the consumer market

In third place, NEC affiliate Packard Bell Electronics Corp suffered due to the general decline in the consumer market. Its market share dropped from 7.5% to 6.2% over the year, according to IDC, and from 7.6% to 6.1%, according to Dataquest, as shipments fell by either 3.3% (IDC) or 4.9% (Dataquest). Behind Packard Bell, Apple Computer Inc’s nightmare continued with the company’s market share dropping from 7.9% in 1995 to 5.2%, according to IDC, and from 11.1% to 6.7%, according to Dataquest, on a sales slump of 22.5% (IDC) or 30.9% (Dataquest). In fifth place, Hewlett-Packard Co showed the largest growth among the top five vendors worldwide, with IDC and Dataquest estimating annual growth rates of 48.0% and 51.8% respectively. IDC gave HP 4.4% of the pie, up from a 3.4% share in 1995, and Dataquest’s estimate was 3.2%, up from 4.1% in the previous year. Worldwide growth in the personal computer industry is expected to continue at a similar rate in 1997, as rapid expansion in emerging markets balances unfavorable economic conditions elsewhere. Worldwide, the personal computer industry was particularly weak in the fourth quarter of 1996 with both IDC and Dataquest estimating that global growth slowed to 11% in the quarter. The weaker performance was mainly attributed to depressed sales in Europe, and in Germany in particular, although US sales remained relatively buoyant, rising 16% over 1995. According to IDC, Compaq was the number one worldwide vendor for the fifth consecutive quarter, with unit shipments growing 23.5% over the fourth quarter of 1995, and increasing its market share from 9.8% to 10.9%. IBM was hard on its heels, due in part to the success of its Aptiva computers, and grew at a robust 31.4%, to achieve a market share of 10.1%, up from 8.5% a year earlier. In third place, Packard Bell NEC’s market share fell to 6.1% from 8.1% as its shipments fell by 16%. Also suffering, Apple’s unit sales plunged by 30% in a disastrous fourth quarter, taking its market share from 7.1% a year earlier to just 4.5%. The real star of the fourth quarter was Dell Computer Corp. In at fifth place, the direct sales company was said by IDC to have increased its shipments by 69%, a jump that took its market share to 4.4% from 2.9% quarter-on-quarter.

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