PC shipments are back on track, posting double-digit gains in this year's third quarter as compared to last year on the strength of a marked increase in worldwide notebook shipments, according to research released yesterday by IDC and Gartner.

PC vendors shipped 38.4 million PCs in the third quarter, up 15.7 per cent from last year's third quarter, IDC said. Gartner put the worldwide third-quarter market at 42.5 million units, an increase of 14.1 per cent year on year.

"This is the second quarter in a row with double-digit year-on-year growth. The upturn that began last quarter has maintained momentum," said Charles Smulders, vice president of Gartner's worldwide computing platforms group.


IDC had forecast shipments to increase about ten per cent in the quarter, but the US and Europe jumped over that mark, posting growth of 16.1 per cent and 17.5 per cent, respectively, said Roger Kay, vice president of client computing for IDC.

Both companies ranked IBM third, Fujitsu Siemens Computers (Holding) BV fourth, and Toshiba fifth in terms of worldwide shipments. Combined, the three companies shipped about as many PCs as market leaders Dell and HP.

Notebooks were the primary driver behind the return to double-digit PC growth, according to both Gartner and IDC. Desktop shipments also increased, but were overshadowed by the strong growth of notebooks in all regions, Kay said.

Consumers are flocking to notebooks because of lower prices, better performance and an increased appreciation for wireless technologies, Smulders said.

Growth in corporate PC shipments continues to lag behind the strong consumer growth, although the corporate market is far larger. The sluggish growth was particularly evident in the US, but corporations in Europe showed signs of life, Smulders said.

The recent depreciation of the dollar helped European buyers get more units for the same investment, which helped to spur growth in that region, Smulders said.

Going into the fourth quarter, the race between Dell and HP will remain close, Smulders said. The fourth quarter is typically a strong consumer quarter, however, which could benefit HP more than Dell, he said.