BOSTON – Computer shipments rose at a faster-than-expected 13 percent worldwide in the first quarter, and the No. 1 PC maker, Dell Inc. (DELL), lost ground to rivals, two technology research firms reported Wednesday.
Framingham-based IDC put growth in the January-March period at 12.9 percent compared with last year's first quarter, with 53.2 million PCs shipped in the most recent period, according to a preliminary estimate.
Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. pegged growth at a slightly faster 13.1 percent, with 57.14 million units shipped. The firms use slightly different measurement methods.
Worldwide growth continued to outpace gains in the United States, where IDC reported a 5.3 percent increase and Gartner estimated 7.4 percent.
The first quarter's worldwide growth rate beat IDC's March forecast of 11.8 percent, and the U.S. results fell short of IDC's 6.7 percent forecast.
Portable computers continued to post stronger growth than desktop models, with especially strong gains in developing countries.
"Emerging markets and consumer demand in the mature regions were the major growth engines on a worldwide basis," said Charles Smulders, a Gartner vice president.
The quarter also was marked by turmoil in the U.S. market, IDC said.
Gartner said Round Rock, Texas-based Dell saw its share of industry computer shipments decline to 16.5 percent in the first quarter from 16.9 percent a year ago.
Dell shipped 10.2 percent more PCs than it did in last year's first quarter — a growth rate Gartner said was Dell's slowest since the third quarter of 2001.
IDC put Dell's market share at 18.1 percent, down from 18.6 percent a year ago. IDC's report said Dell "may have focused on profitability at the expense of volumes, especially in the United States."
IDC and Gartner both put Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HPQ) growth at about 22 percent. Gartner estimated HP's market share at 14.9 percent, and IDC put it at 16.4 percent.
China's Lenovo Group Ltd., which acquired IBM's (IBM) PC business during last year's second quarter, ranked third with a post-merger 6 percent share, according to Gartner. IDC put Lenovo's share at 6.4 percent.
Taiwan-based Acer had a market share of around 5 percent, with Fujitsu/Siemens rounding out the top five at about 4 percent.
IDC's Loren Loverde said Dell's slowing growth "may set the stage for more aggressive pricing in coming quarters. While this would help drive volumes, it would not help profitability."