Researcher: Apple to weather recession better than rivals

Apple are in a stronger position than Dell and HP, says researcher

Even though economic uncertainty is pulling US computer buying plans into a nose dive, Apple's prospects remain brighter than some of its PC rivals, a research firm said Wednesday.

"The US market is heading south, and there's nobody that can escape unscathed," said Paul Carton, director of research at ChangeWave Research. "But it looks like Apple will handle this relatively well."

According to surveys ChangeWave conducted last month in the US, only 8 per cent of consumers said they planned to buy a laptop in the next 90 days and just 7 per cent said they would buy a desktop computer in the same period. Both those numbers, said Carton, were the lowest levels seen in the past 12 months. "There are some tough times out there for personal computer makers," said Carton. "This is part of the whole economic scenario."

But the slowdown will likely affect Apple less than some big-name competitors on the PC side. Of the people who said that they are planning to purchase a laptop in the next three months, 28 per cent said they are picking Apple, down just one percentage point from ChangeWave's January 2008 survey. Of those who said they would buy a desktop in the next 90 days, 31 per cent claimed they would buy from Apple; that's two points lower than January.

Both Hewlett-Packard and Dell, however, aren't expected to fare as well in the US in the coming months: their shares of the projected buyers dropped more sharply than Apple's.

HP's share of likely notebook buyers, for example, slipped two percentage points from January, to 19 per cent, and its share of the potential consumer desktop buyers dropped five points, to 18 per cent. Meanwhile, Dell's share of the laptop buyers slipped two points from January, to 28 per cent, while its portion of the desktop pool fell four percentage points, ending up at 32 per cent.

Dell is actually in a tougher spot than HP, Carton said, because nearly 70 per cent of HP's sales are outside the US, where the current economic slowdown will probably have less of an impact than in America. "I think the most exposed is Dell," he said.

Apple, on the other hand, is in a stronger position, even in a difficult market. "Apple has been growing -- its planned buying numbers grew by 50 per cent over a year ago -- and now they look like they're maintaining," said Carton.

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Gregg Keizer

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