IBM has topped third quarter PC sales figures, while Hewlett-Packard lost ground and the white-box sector continued its market share slide, according to latest research from analyst IDC.
It is the first time since the analyst began collecting data in 1994 that Big Blue has topped the vendor list on IDC's quarterly desktop, notebook and server PC sales figures, recording 14 per cent market share, ahead of Compaq and HP.
According to IDC figures, the PC market grew 7.3 per cent on the previous quarter and 25.4 per cent year on year, with 627,000 units shipped for the three months. Around 500,000 units were sold in the PC sector, while notebooks sold more than 110,000 units - the most ever shipped in a quarter, according to the analyst. Standards-based servers make up the balance of the total.
IBM's success is due largely to an awakening corporate business market, which had all but shut down in the first half of this year, IDC said. Consumer PCs also did well for Big Blue, despite sluggish mass-merchant sales, thanks to alliances with companies such as Virtual Communities.
IDC's PC analyst Logan Ringland described the figures as both a "surprising result" and a "fantastic effort".
"[IBM] had trouble selling into enterprise clients during the first half of the year because of GST and other market slowdowns," Ringland said. He added that Big Blue's consumer sales had been keeping IBM in the picture in the first two quarters.
"Everything came into line for [IBM] in Q3. Their corporate business came good as pent-up demand was unleashed, while consumer sales held their ground," Ringland said.
Of the other vendors, HP was the only one in IDC's top five which dropped sales quarter to quarter, although overall figures are up on those of last year. HP's consumer and corporate PC sales were strong, but its server business floundered, sales dropping significantly both for the quarter and year on year. HP's overall PC sales accounted for 9.9 per cent of the market share.
"HP's notebooks are not the best selling - in fact they are quite poor - and last quarter server sales took a pounding for them," Ringland said. "As so much hardware is sold as part of a complete solution these days, I think those poor server sales have hindered HP's performance."
Ringland said the next three quarters will be make or break for the white-box sector which continues to suffer declining market share.
"White-box vendors have suffered at the hands of components shortages such as CPUs earlier in the year and now hard drives," he said. "If [white-box vendors] can survive this year, they are looking okay for next year, but this is a sector of the market that the multinationals have been actively targeting.
"[The multinationals'] market share is increasing so there is some possibility that white-box vendors are becoming an endangered species. It is all about them being able to demonstrate a market differentiation and being able to add value.
Ringland predicted the October-December quarter to be a tough one, with sales being either "flat or just up". White-box vendors will continue to face hard-drive shortages, Ringland said, because the component vendors are getting better margins selling the capacitors in hard drives to booming mobile phone manufacturers. This is a situation that should improve in the new year, he said.