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IT Channel News Briefs, Jan. 15

Today's headlines: Jobs takes break from Apple; Gartner cites poor PC sales

Apple's Jobs out for six months

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is stepping out of day-to-day duties for six months, citing his health. Company COO Tim Cook will assume his duties. Jobs disclosed the news in a letter posted to Apple's site, saying that his health issues were "more complex than I originally thought." Many Apple watchers slammed the company, accusing its board of withholding material information about Jobs' health. Jobs, perhaps more than any other tech executive, is closely associated with Apple and its recent iPhone and iPod successes. The company and Jobs have likewise been criticized for failing to provide a clear succession plan. Jobs has been treated for pancreatic cancer. More recently he said he had a "hormonal imbalance" which kept him from speaking at MacWorld Expo this year. Speculation around his health has swirled for more than a year when Jobs appeared looking gaunt at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference.

Gartner cites bleak quarter for PC growth

In case you didn't already suspect this, Gartner Inc. says that PC growth rate worldwide in the fourth quarter was the worst in six years. For the final quarter in 2008, total worldwide PC shipments hit 78.1 million units, up 1.1% from the year-ago quarter, according to Gartner's preliminary numbers. U.S. figures were worse, with domestic PC shipments falling 10% year over year. In the U.S., vendors shipped 15.6 million PCs -- down from 17.4 million the previous year.

As for market share in the U.S., Dell topped the list with 28.6% share, down from 30.8% last year while HP grew its share to 27.5% from 25.6% last year. Dell was affected by a "very weak professional market," Gartner said in a statement.

"The fourth quarter started pretty well but got worse every month," said Mika Kitagawa, analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group. "In the fourth quarter, U.S. businesses quickly cut IT spending with public sectors, including some government and education buyers, and postponed PC procurement due to budget crisis concerns. PC vendors focused on the professional market were especially hit by the weakening market conditions. Overall, consumer mobile PC shipments showed strength, but the shipment growth was boosted by steep [average selling price] declines which were further accelerated by the popularity of mini-notebooks."

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