World Cup slows PC sales in Q2; Apple shines

PC market growth slowed during the second quarter compared to the first three months of the year as the World Cup soccer tournament distracted Europeans, leading to a steep slow down in shipment growth on the continent, market researcher, IDC, said in a report.

Despite slower growth overall, some computer makers thrived, including Apple Computer, the report said.

Global PC shipment growth softened to 9.7 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter, from a blistering 12.9 per cent pace during the first quarter, IDC said.

"While overall growth remained strong, there were some unexpected twists in regional performance. Inventory from he first quarter and distractions from the World Cup significantly cut into European growth," the market researcher said.

PC shipment growth in Europe rose just 7 per cent in the April through June period, compared to a 14 per cent increase during the first quarter and an IDC forecast calling for 12 per cent growth.

The slower second quarter figure should mean more PC bargains for users. Increased competition among PC makers and sluggish growth in some key markets such as Europe and the US, which grew just 6.7 per cent year-on-year during the second quarter, should ensure low prices.

"We can expect to see heightened competition in the second half of this year as companies vie for growth," IDC said, noting that U.S. PC makers have slashed prices over the past six months to increase shipment growth. The company also cited aggressive competition between microprocessor makers, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), as well as the delayed release of Windows Vista as factors that will affect PC market growth going forward.

Processor competition has already hurt Intel. The company this week reported second quarter sales that disappointed Wall Street, and blamed price competition with AMD as part of the reason for the shortfall.

There were several bright spots for PC vendors during the second quarter. Apple shipments grew by about 16 per cent thanks to strong portable PC sales at its retail stores, IDC said.

"The strong growth reflects a successful transition to Intel-based systems - a critical transition for the company that sets the stage for future growth," IDC said.

Apple this week reported earnings for its fiscal third quarter that solidly beat Wall Street estimates as sales of iPods and Macintosh computers soared.

Taiwanese PC maker, Acer, also continued to gain PC market share on growth that outpaced all other top vendors, IDC said. Gateway shined as its growth topped 15 per cent for the second quarter, while Dell remained the PC market leader at 19.2 per cent and gained global market share despite facing tough competition.

By region, the Asia/Pacific excluding Japan continued to grow at a faster clip than the rest of the world due to strong PC buying in China, IDC said.

India and South Korea grew at a slower than expected pace during the quarter, moderating PC shipment growth to the region at just over 18 per cent year-on-year.

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