Business buying puts Dell back atop PC pile

PC shipments grew somewhat faster than expected during the first quarter of 2004, helping to hoist Dell into the No. 1 market share position, according to preliminary figures from research firms IDC and Gartner. Shipments of PCs totaled 41.3 million units worldwide, a year-over-year increase of about 17 percent, beating out forecasts of just more than 15 percent, according to IDC. That growth was propelled largely by a surge in businesses purchasing PCs.

Europe was the fastest-growing regional market due to renewed corporate buying and the strength of the euro. Gartner said that units shipped equaled 45.3 million worldwide, up 13.4 percent year over year but down 6.8 percent from the previous quarter, a normal seasonal decline, said Gartner analyst Charles Smulders. IDC and Gartner use slightly different methods for measuring shipments, which causes the disparity between their numbers. While Dell and Hewlett-Packard, the world's two largest PC makers, have traded the top spot since HP completed its merger with Compaq Computer in May 2002, the past quarter changed that equation.

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