Analysts Claim PC Market Grew Substantially in Q3

Back when Intel reported its third quarter results for 2009, analysts expressed some concern that the company's strong numbers might not be fully supported by later market analysis. Research firm IDC has recently released data indicating that such concerns were unnecessary—sales in Q3 were up dramatically compared to earlier this year and stronger than is seasonally typical.

Sales in Q3 were up 23 percent over Q2, while PC processor revenue grew by 14 percent quarter-on-quarter. Intel was the primary beneficiary of the growth, with an estimated 81.1 percent of world PC processor sales, while AMD took second place at 18.7 percent (down two percent) and VIA held 0.2 percent. IDC broke out numbers by segment as well; said figures are particularly interesting given consumers' strong continued demand for Atom-based netbooks. In mobile, Intel held 88 percent (up 1.1 percent), AMD clocked 11.9 percent (-0.7 percent), and VIA again took 0.2 percent.

The workstation/server market showed a similar slight shift towards Intel and away from AMD. Here, Intel held 90.4 percent to AMD's 9.6 percent (a 0.5 percent shift respectively for each company). AMD remains strongest in desktops, at 27.4 percent of sales, but lost ground to Intel here as well (1.9 percent). It's hard to characterize Sunnyvale's losses as even a glass half-full/half-empty scenario, but the company's comments during its Q3 webcast indicate that improved factory utilization and a lower cost-per-processor will help AMD reach (and hopefully remain) in the black even as new 32nm Westmere products bring additional competitive pressure to bear on the smaller company.

IDC expects processor shipments to be "well over" 300 million units for 2009, but is still holding off on forecasting a strong 2010 at this point. Atom's strong performance is expected to continue to drive sales, but variation in consumer demand and that processor's lower ASP in terms of actual dollars could also drive price erosion into next year.