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  • Japan's PC Shipments Rise in July-Sept. Period
  • November 9, 1998 (TOKYO) -- The Japan Electronic Industry Development Association (JEIDA) said personal computer shipments rose for the second quarter of fiscal 1998 (July to September).
    A total of 1.79 million units were sold domestically, a rise of 9 percent over the corresponding period last year. Despite this increase in unit sales, the total value of sales remained relatively flat, at 393.1 billion yen (US$3.34 billion).

    The rise in the total number of units shipped is the first quarterly gain over the previous year's figures in five quarters. Sales first started falling below the previous year's figures during the second quarter of last fiscal year (July-September 1997).

    From early 1997 onwards, unit sales of desktop PCs had been consistently below the previous year's figures, but in this latest quarter the trend turned upwards at last, thanks in part to Windows 98, which appeared in shops at the end of July.

    Therefore, sales of desktop machines in units posted a 5 percent gain over the corresponding period of the previous year. Despite that, due to a drop in the average price of each unit, the total value of desktop shipments stayed almost unchanged.

    In the first quarter of this fiscal year PC sales figures were markedly down in terms of both value and numbers of units. This means that despite the unit-based upswing in the second quarter, sales figures for the first half of the 1998 fiscal year (April to September) still do not exceed those for the same period in 1997.

    Actual figures for the first half of fiscal 1998 show that 3.27 million units were sold, a 3 percent fall from the previous year, while the total value of sales was 728.3 billion yen (US$6.2 billion), a drop of 13 percent compared with the same period in 1997.

    JEIDA stated at the beginning of this fiscal year that it expected the year's total sales to surpass last year's by 5 percent. If that target is still to be achieved, then figures for the second half of the year will be up by 13 percent over the corresponding six-month period last year.

    Tetsuya Mizoguchi, chairman of JEIDA's Personal Computer Promotion Committee and a senior vice president at Toshiba Corp., said sales to private users can be expected to remain level, or possibly even rise, during the third quarter.

    He also said sales to corporate customers will start picking up momentum some time in the fourth quarter thanks to the effects of the government's "Total Plan" of stimulus measures intended to boost the Japanese economy in general. For these reasons, JEIDA considers it too early, as yet, to think about revising the original sales estimate for the whole year.

    If sales of desktops and notebooks are treated separately, then it is clear that shipments of notebooks continue to be strong, with 855,000 units being sold in the quarter, a 14 percent gain over the figure for the same three months last year.

    As mentioned earlier, sales of desktops also posted an increase, up 5 percent over last year, at 942,000 units. So, although in the past the number of notebooks as a percentage of the total number of units sold has always been rising, this quarter they stood at 48 percent, down 1 percentage point from the first quarter's figures. Therefore, sales of notebooks still haven't reached a level where they account for the larger part of the market.

    The average unit cost of notebook PCs actually increased, from 227,000 yen (US$1,930) in the first quarter to 234,000 yen (US$1,990) in the second quarter. JEIDA said that in addition to screens becoming larger and performance improving, the rise in the average unit cost could be partly due to a feeling that prices for components have bottomed out and won't continue falling.

    In stark contrast, second quarter figures show the average unit price of desktop models reached the lowest level ever of 205,000 yen (US$1,740), falling from 228,000 yen in the first quarter. For this reason, despite the 5 percent rise in unit sales, sales in terms of total value were down 8 percent to 193 billion yen (US$1.64 billion) when compared with the corresponding figure the previous year. One factor behind this is said to be the increasing use by PC makers of cheaper compatible chips.

    Related stories:
    � Japan PC Shipments from April-June Fall 14 Pct.
    � FY97 PC Ships Fall Y-O-Y for First Time in Five Years

    (BizTech News Dept.)

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    Updated: Sun Nov 8 18:39:46 1998 PDT