In an Ugly Tech Economy, HP Still on Top


Any sports fan will tell you that regardless of a team's record, first place is still first place (deep, isn't it?). So in that respect, Hewlett-Packard can still claim victory as the world's top supplier of desktops and notebooks. The only problem is HP is the top dog in a weak economy, which is kind of like a sports team taking the top spot in a weak division (we're looking at you, Arizona Cardinals).

Putting aside the sports analogy (and go Cardinals, btw), overall shipments of both desktops and notebooks dropped in the fourth quarter of 2008, which had a significant impact on the PC market, according to Gartner and IDC. But if there's a silver lining, it's that despite the Q4 slide, overall PC shipments for 2008 increased by a tad over 2 percent with 68 million units shipped. It should come as no surprise that netbooks helped drive the overall market.

" In the fourth quarter, if you had to pick a bright spot, the surge of mininotebooks in the PC [market] has helped drive growth," said Doug Bell , an analyst with IDC. "The Catch-22 is that these are inexpensive machines and that means total revenue is down. As far as volume goes, it helped a very tough fourth quarter."

For HP's part, the oem topped 15 million units in Q4 2008, representing a 3 percent increase over one year prior. Dell lost some footing with a 6 percent drop, and Acer has been gaining momentum with a 25 percent increase over Q4 2007.

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