U.S. computer sales growth lags

A new study by Dataquest, the San Jose, CA division of the Stamford, CT-based research firm GartnerGroup, states that the growth of personal computer sales in the U.S. lags behind the growth of computer sales overseas. While U.S. computer shipments for the first quarter of this year were up 39% from 1998, shipments in Europe and Asia during the same period rose 54% and 72% respectively.

“There is no more room for growth in the [domestic] corporate market,” says Charles Smulders, principal analyst for Dataquest. “Pretty much every business user who would need a PC has one.” But the U.S. home computer market still has room to grow. About 42% of homes do not yet have a computer, Smulders says.

But Bruce Stephen, an analyst with research firm International Data Corp., says computer marketers probably aren’t feeling a pinch. “Other emerging categories, such as digital cameras and handheld products, are making up for lost accessories sales, if there are any,” Stephen says. “Besides, we expect the business market to pick up again toward the end of the year, especially as Windows ME is being rolled out.”

In fact, computer cataloger CDW, for one, hasn’t been hurt by the supposed slowdown, says spokesman Gary Ross. “Our second-quarter earnings were strong. We saw 58% growth over the same quarter last year.”

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