There are a growing number of indicators that the end of the recession is happening, and here's a surprising one: Sales of PCs around the world literally rocketed upwards from their previously doomy pace at the end of 2009.
Research company Gartner puts the figure at a 22% growth in the final quarter of 2009 versus the figure in 2008 (IDC's research suggests a more modest 15% but the figure's still highly positive) and that's quite an astonishing turnaround. Though this growth was echoed in PC sales in countries all around the globe, it looks like the change was most noticeable in the U.S. where both IDC and Gartner put the year-on-year quarterly growth at 26%.
So what's going on? It's largely due to the netbook revolution, it would seem, since the average price of computer sold in the quarter is actually dropping versus the previous year from $771 to $709—the drop will be partly from manufacturer's lowering of prices overall, but the analysis strongly suggests that it's the low costs of netbooks that tempted so many consumers to buy new machines anyway. Of the vendors concerned HP remained in the top slot, garnering just over 20% of the market, with Acer in second place.
But perhaps the most surprising vendor statistics belong to Apple: It had an absolutely storming fourth quarter according to Gartner, achieving a big 7.5% share of the U.S. market. That equates to a 23.3% year-on-year growth. Considering the hullabaloo in the pro-Windows press (and marketing) about the perceived high prices of Apple products, and the suggestion that overall PC sales boosts were driven by low-cost machines, this statistic is even more fascinating. What it seems to suggest is that Apple's reputation for quality and its relentlessly positive PR image is paying off in a market where everyone else is in a rush to the bottom. No wonder Steve Jobs and other Apple execs have bad-mouthed the netbook game: They were right. We'll just have to wait and see how sales of the iSlate work out in Q2 2010...and whether or not Apple can take its place in the ranks of PC sellers who just may be helping the economy turn around.