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Global PC shipments jump 22 percent

/ Source: The Associated Press

Market research group IDC said Wednesday that worldwide shipments of personal computers climbed 22.4 percent in the second quarter as businesses replaced aging computers and consumers continued to show interest in inexpensive laptops.

The growth was half a percentage point less than IDC predicted because of slightly lower PC shipments in the U.S. and Asia. IDC analyst Loren Loverde said the group will likely reduce estimates for the current quarter and the rest of the year slightly, but he still calls the industry's performance in the quarter "quite good."

Businesses that stopped buying new technology during the worst of the recession have started replacing PCs, IDC says. That contributed to the rise in the quarter.

But Loverde said that doesn't mean the industry should expect to see a dramatic surge in demand for PCs in the coming months. As PC processors become more powerful, it's not as critical for many businesses to furnish employees with the most up-to-date technology. As a result, more companies are hanging on to older computers longer and replacing them on an as-needed basis, the analyst said.

In all, PC makers shipped 81.5 million computers in the quarter. Hewlett-Packard remained the top computer maker in the world, followed by Dell and Acer. Lenovo, Toshiba and AsusTek rounded out IDC's top-six list.

Consumers still sought out low-end laptops and netbooks — computers that are even less expensive, but also less powerful. However, Loverde said consumer PC buying seems to be slowing in the U.S. as big business spending picks up.

That has helped Dell overtake Acer and reclaim the No. 2 spot. Dell relies on corporations for much of its business, while Acer is more focused on consumers.

In the U.S., PC shipments rose 12.6 percent. HP, Dell and Acer were the top three. No. 4 Apple Inc. shipped 15.4 percent more of its Mac computers in the quarter. Toshiba was fifth.

Gartner Inc., another research group that tracks computer shipments using slightly different methods, said it estimates worldwide shipments rose 20.7 percent in the quarter to 82.9 million.

By Gartner's count, Acer still shipped more PCs than Dell in the quarter on a worldwide basis, but Dell was No. 2 in the U.S.

Mikako Kitagawa, a Gartner analyst, said netbook shipments grew at about 20 percent in the quarter — much less than the 70 percent rate in the two prior quarters.

Kitagawa said the netbook market has matured, and some people who might have bought the smaller laptop-style devices in the past may have opted for Apple's newly launched iPad tablet instead.