IBM's market share slips dramatically: Inform

The battle for the top spot in the mass merchant PC market continues, with Hewlett-Packard surpassing previous leader IBM in March sales figures.

HP's sales jumped 9 per cent on February figures to 32 per cent of the market, according to the monthly report from analyst Inform. In contrast, IBM's market share dropped 6 per cent, despite a growth in sales of 4 per cent. Preliminary April figures indicate IBM continues to plummet, dropping to just 14 per cent.

"That's a very big drop considering IBM had a market share of around 31 per cent in January," said Inform's senior research analyst Phil Burnham. "It could be a blip, but it is possible IBM is beginning to focus less and less in the retail area, as it has done in the US."While IBM gained ground in March over Toshiba in notebook sales, taking 32 per cent of the share in unit shipments in a market that skyrocketed by 112 per cent, its April sales slipped slightly, allowing Toshiba and Compaq to take the number one and two spots respectively.

"The mass merchant market has been quite lucrative since Christmas, which is usual at this time of the year, especially with GST," Burnham said. "We are seeing a lot of good deals in the space, because it is a very competitive market and consumers are taking advantage of that."The top PCs in desktop sales included the HP Pavillion 6610, Compaq's Deskpro EN SFF 500+, HP's Vectra Vei 500 and Apple's iMac 400. In notebooks, Acer's Tmate 516T took the number one spot, followed by Toshiba's Satellite 1550, IBM T Pad 390E 333 and HP Omnibook XE2 366.

Inform predicts the next four months should see a growth in PC sales, fuelled by GST-reduced prices, a strengthened notebook market and increasing company IT. Preliminary April figures show HP still sitting on the number one spot, with 34 per cent of the desktop market share. But the big mover and shaker is Packard Bell, where market share on desktops jumped from fourth to second place with 17 per cent of the market.

"Packard Bell have taken advantaged of IBM's drop," Burnham saidWithin the channel, mass merchants took 26 per cent of the overall PC market, compared with 34 per cent by the corporate dealer and 14 per cent by the traditional dealer. Direct marketers accounted for 13 per cent of the market, held back by component shortages, according to Inform.

"The likes of Dell who source its chips directly from the supplier are hit straight away by a component's shortage," Burnham explained. "Dell's success lies in the company's ability to buy direct and turn orders around quickly, but it doesn't operate on a large inventory. Dell is particularly limited, because it deals with Intel exclusively, whereas distributors and resellers can source other chips from AMD which hasn't been hit that badly with shortage problems.""Our information indicates that the chip shortage will last at least until the end of this year, although AMD seem to be getting its chips out on time, which is unusual even in the normal scheme of things."The printer market also saw a surge in mass merchant sales, which inceased by 11 per cent during March. HP lead the vendors with 38 per cent of the overall market share, followed by Canon with 22 per cent and Epsom, whose sales slipped slightly. Canon was the only inkjet vendor to show positive year-on year growth in the sector. The top inkjet printers include Canon's BJC 265SP, Epson's Stylus 460 and the HP Deskjet 610C, while HP took out the top three positions in laser printers with its LJ 2100TN, LJ2100 and LJ1100.

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