Dell Computer would have surpassed Compaq as the number one PC maker in the U.S. this quarter if it weren't for Compaq's purchase of Digital Equipment Corp (DEC). Compaq is still the leader worldwide. Even still, the plucky Dell finished basically even with Compaq, which has been leading sales of PCs in the United States for a long time. Both Compaq and Dell finished the second quarter of 1998 neck and neck, with 14% of the U.S. market (in the same quarter last year, Compaq had 14% while Dell only had 9%). The remainder of the top five includes Hewlett Packard (7.8%), Gateway (7.8%) and Packard Bell/NEC (7.6%).

Compaq's problems are due largely to unsold inventory. The smaller Dell, which builds PCs to order over the Internet and via mail order, doesn't have a supply of prebuilt PCs sitting around waiting to be sold. Dell's shipments have risen 70% so far in 1998, despite the fact that Q2 1998 was the slowest quarter for overall PC sales in years: PC shipments fell 3% overall when compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

This quarter's list of the top PC makers is also notable for the absentees from the top five, especially IBM, which came in at number six, and Apple Computer, which fell out of the top five over a year ago.