updated 1/19/2005 11:04:35 AM ET 2005-01-19T16:04:35

Worldwide shipments of personal computers grew nearly 12 percent in the third quarter, driven by strong European sales and rising commercial demand, according to IDC, a research company that tracks shipments.

A PC shipments report released Monday by another firm, Gartner, Inc., reported quarterly growth of 9.7 percent, with lower-than-expected U.S. shipments limiting overall growth.

Dell Inc. remained the worldwide PC market leader, boosting its share to 18.2 percent and posting more than 20 percent shipment growth over the same quarter a year ago, IDC said. Gartner put Dell's share at 16.8 percent.

Both IDC and Gartner put Hewlett-Packard Co. at No. 2 in the market, with a 16.2 percent share according to IDC and 15 percent according to Gartner. IBM Corp. remained third, followed by Fujitsu/Fujitsu Siemens and Toshiba.

Total PC shipments for the July-September period rose to 44.2 million units, compared with 39.5 million a year ago, according to preliminary figures from Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. The total was 0.5 percent above IDC's forecast, and second only to the fourth quarter of 2003 in total volume.

The performance marked the sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit percentage growth.

Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, which uses slightly different measurement methods than IDC, reported 46.9 million units shipped, compared with 42.8 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Quarterly PC shipments in the United States grew 5 percent, below the firm's forecast of 8 percent growth. Other regions were in line with expectations.

IDC attributed overall growth to aggressive pricing by PC makers, along with rapid adoption of mobile technology, businesses replacing older computers and the strength of the Euro in currency markets.

"PC market performance in the third quarter reflects persistent commercial activity and continuing demand in areas such as mobile computing, Europe and the rest of the world," said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. "Nevertheless, we would like to see more consumer activity going into the fourth quarter, and growth in Asia could have been stronger."

U.S. shipments grew 7.6 percent compared with the unusually strong U.S. performance recorded in the same quarter a year earlier, IDC said.

Back-to-school shipments of notebook computers and replacements of desktops drove strong growth in the region encompassing Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Commercial demand continued to drive the Japanese market, with continued weakness in Japan's consumer market.

In the Asian and Pacific regions, most countries recorded strong growth. But South Korea's market declined due to a weak economy.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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