Notebooks fuel PC growth in AP

Laptop sales will continue to soar across the region after strong third-quarter performance, predicts analyst IDC.

Despite recent political upheavals in the region, the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) PC market clocked 12.6 million in unit shipment in the third quarter, a 9 percent growth over the previous quarter, on the back of strong notebook sales in the education sector.

According to a new IDC report, increased demand in the education sector accounted for much of laptop sales in developing markets such as China, India and Malaysia. The region's total PC shipments grew 15 percent, compared to the same quarter last year, and registered at 1 percent above IDC's initial forecast for the quarter.

The same period also saw the top two PC vendors--Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo--further solidify their influence on the overall PC market.

According to IDC, the region's market leader Lenovo garnered 21 percent of total shipments in the third quarter. Most of the vendor's growth came from the Greater China region, consisting of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

In second place, HP's market share expanded slightly from 12 to 12.9 percent due to sharp growth in notebook shipments. Worldwide, HP leads the PC market after overtaking Dell Computer for the first time in almost three years.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Dell took third placing with a 9 percent market share. However, the American PC maker posted the strongest year-on-year growth out of the region's top vendors at 34.8 percent.

Growing demand in education sector
"Despite an easing in notebook growth from 46 percent in the previous quarter to 37 percent in third-quarter 2006, notebooks continued to be a catalyst for PC sales [in the latest quarter]," Bryan Ma, IDC's director of Asia-Pacific personal systems research, said in a statement. He added that nearly all the countries managed to surpass expectations in this segment.

"Malaysia, in particular, [is] coming in very hot--thanks to the aggressive student and SMB (small and midsize business) promotions there," Ma noted. Likewise, Asia's two economic giants--China and India--managed to beat expectations due to brisk spending in the education sector.

China's PC market continued to expand in the third quarter as demand from the education, government and SMB sectors grew, while India also enjoyed strong sales in the education segment.

In contrast, markets such as Korea, Australia and Thailand reported modest growth, according to IDC.

The research house noted that Korea's PC market registered a slight sequential growth as vendors pushed PCs into the channels prior to the local holiday Chuseok in the third quarter. In Australia, PC demand dropped seasonally from the previous quarter as expected but year-on-year growth remained modest, fueled primarily by notebook shipments.

Thailand was one of the countries that fell short of IDC's forecast for the quarter. While recovering from a political hangover which saw the ousting of the country's prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai PC market still managed to register a year-on-year growth of 5 percent.

Farihan Bahrin is a freelance IT writer based in Singapore.