January 30, 1996 in Nation/World

Compaq Maintains Pc Sales Lead As U.S. Demand Lags Behind The World Market


Personal computer sales grew faster overseas than in the United States last year and Compaq Computer Corp. widened its worldwide lead, the market research firm Dataquest reported Monday.

Just under 60 million PCs were shipped in 1995, up about 25 percent percent from 47.9 million in 1994. Growth in 1994 from 1993 was 23.3 percent.

In the United States, there were 22.5 million PCs shipped, up 21 percent from 18.6 million in 1994.

Dataquest’s preliminary year-end report also said Packard Bell Electronics Inc. passed Apple Computer Inc. in U.S. sales to take second behind Compaq. IBM and Gateway 2000 followed. But the second five largest PC makers grew far faster in U.S. sales than the top five.

Hewlett-Packard Co. became the fastest-growing manufacturer - more than doubling its shipments to just over 1 million units in the United States.

Dataquest measures sales in terms of the number of PCs that manufacturers ship to distributors and retailers. The company reported a Top 5 in worldwide sales and Top 10 in the United States.

Worldwide, IBM jumped past Apple for the No. 2 spot, though neither firm grew as fast as the overall market. Packard Bell remained the fourth-largest, followed by NEC.

PC manufacturers and analysts for months have said they sensed international markets had become more important for growth, but there was little hard evidence of the change.

It is happening chiefly because the United States, where the personal computer was born, is closer than to saturation in PC demand.

“We expect slower growth in the U.S. versus the rest of the world this year as well and probably in a more pronounced way,” said Kimball Brown, analyst at Dataquest.

The company has forecast worldwide PC sales to grow 19.5 percent in 1996, and U.S. sales 13.5 percent.

Brown said Dataquest believes the slowdown in sales growth is naturally tied to where PCs are in the three-year lifecycle of the key chip that runs them. Intel’s Pentium microprocessor, now the standard on PCs, is past its peak growth. The successor chip, called Pentium Pro, will start to become popular late this year.

The Dataquest report solidified a view that PC sales in the fourth quarter were brisk but not as strong as some companies expected. Apple and Packard Bell lost market share during the quarter to Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Acer.

Hewlett-Packard’s gains have come largely from its solid reputation with other computer products and established marketing force. The company did not push heavily into PCs until 1992 and only last year made a splash in the consumer market.

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