Consumer confidence pushed up Asian PC sales in 2005

Confidence has returned, and laptops continue to drive PC spending across the region, says Gartner.

SINGAPORE--High economic confidence helped last year's PC market in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, to grow at rates not seen since 2000, according to research company Gartner.

Calling 2005 a "phenomenal" year for PCs, Lillian Tay, principal analyst for Gartner's computing platform group in the Asia-Pacific region, said in a statement: "Economic confidence in the region and significant promotions on notebooks were the catalysts that drove demand, especially from the home market."

Total PC shipments for the year reached 41.7 million units, a 26.2 percent increase compared with 33.1 million units in 2004. The fourth quarter was "extremely robust" as 11.6 million units were shipped, a 32.6 per cent increase from the same quarter a year ago, said Tay.

Gartner's report revealed that the home PC market grew 31 percent and accounted for 44 percent of the overall regional market, a 2 percent increase on 2004. The professional PC market grew by 23 percent in 2005 and accounted for the remaining 56 percent of the market.

In terms of notebooks, 25 percent of total unit shipments in 2005 were in the sub-US$999 segment, an increase from the 7 percent recorded in 2004. According to Tay, multinational vendors dominated in this segment last year compared to 2004, indicating that buyers now have a wider choice of brands to consider.

The top 5 Asia-Pacific PC vendors for 2005 were Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Founder with market shares of 18.7 percent, 10.6 percent, 7.4 percent, 5.6 percent, and 5.1 percent, respectively. Compared to the other vendors, Acer and HP saw the biggest market share gains in 2005, said Gartner.

Acer recorded strong growth in its three main markets of Taiwan, China and Australia, while HP performed well in China, India and South Korea, where unit shipments grew more than 60 percent compared to 2004, stated the report.

Simon Ye, a principal analyst for Gartner's computing platform group in China, said China's PC industry had a strong fourth quarter in 2005, recording 40.7 percent year-on-year growth, and 8.3 percent quarter-to-quarter growth.

"Usually, the fourth quarter is the peak season of the year, and the fiscal year-end also stimulated business, education and government budget spending. From a consumer perspective, the October National Day holiday and early winter promotions in December were the main growth drivers," said Ye.

For 2005, the China PC market grew 29 percent over 2004, led by the top 5 PC vendors Lenovo, Founder, Tongfang, Dell and HP. Notebook PC sales continued to outpace that of desk-based PCs with a 46.6 percent year-on-year growth, said Gartner.

Ye noted: "As price gaps between notebooks and desktops narrowed in 2005, people's desire for mobility increased. Notebook PCs are enjoying good times."

However, he added that "desktop PCs will still have plenty of demand", especially in the SMB (small and medium-sized business), education, and government sectors.

"Considering the low PC penetration rate and purchasing power, most Chinese may still consider desk-based PCs for their first time purchase," he added.