Notebooks drive strengthening hardware sector

Sales of personal computers in Australia continue to strengthen, growing 10 per cent in the second quarter in line with worldwide growth.

The Australian PC market grew to 673,000 units in the second quarter, up 10 per cent on the first quarter and over 20 per cent on the same quarter last year, according to market research company IDC.

As expected, it was notebook sales that provided much of the growth – increasing 18.1 per cent quarter on quarter and 41.5 per cent on the same period last year.

IDC research director, Joel Martin, said initial feedback suggested this growth was shared among all form factors of notebook computers.

“Whether it was the desktop replacements or the ultra-portables, there was a significant move toward the mobile market,” he said. Martin attributed the growth to several factors. As in prior quarters, prices for notebooks continue to decline while performance continued to increase.

“A fully featured notebook costs only marginally more than a desktop now,” he said. “That makes the notebook particularly attractive to the small business market.”

Retailers, IDC said, had been the trailblazers with notebook sales.

There were strong sales of wireless-capable notebooks among early adopters. In the corporate market, notebooks are beginning to penetrate as IT departments refresh their management systems in order to accommodate mobile computing.

Martin said most IT departments were moving towards Windows 2000 or XP as their standard operating environment.

These operating systems were able to provide administrators with the ability to securely manage data on mobile computing devices, he said. The corporate market had, however, been sheepish in adopting wireless technology as organisations take a pragmatic “wait and see” approach to the emerging technology.

The large uptake of notebook computers in the corporate market had resulted in HP knocking over notebook kings Toshiba in terms of sales, Martin said.

Exact figures for the notebook market were due for release in the coming weeks.

The desktop computer market increased by 7.4 per cent on the last quarter, up 15.7 per cent on the same quarter last year. The x86 server market also performed well – up 28.7 per cent on last quarter and 15.6 per cent on the same quarter last year, IDC said.

Overall, HP led in the second quarter with a 19.3 per cent of the total PC market. IDC said HP was one of the few vendors that benefited from the traditional end of financial year rush in the Government and corporate sectors. Dell’s aggressive advertising saw it claim second spot with 11.4 per cent of the market, IBM came in at 7.5 per cent and Acer captured 6.4 per cent.

As notebook prices continue to decline and the Australian dollar continues to strengthen, Martin is upbeat about sales in coming quarters.

“Many vendors in the market will continue to shift resources away from their traditional desktop business and look to cash in on the current opportunity in the notebook market,” he said. “All things remaining equal the market is set for a big year.”

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