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Computer Hardware Industry, 2008

U.S. Market Overview

The computer hardware sector includes companies engaged in manufacturing computers (ranging from supercomputers to portable handheld devices), peripheral equipment (monitors, storage devices, terminals, printers, scanners, etc.), and local area network (LAN) switches, routers and modems. This industry has a high concentration of small- and medium-sized enterprises that account for the majority of the establishments in the U.S. hardware sector, but large companies account for more than 70 percent of industry employment and over 80 percent of shipments.

The United States is the largest market in the world for computer hardware products. In 2007, U.S. spending on computer hardware reached $150 billion about one-fourth of the global total, according to International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates. Spending on computer systems accounted for 50 percent of this total, followed by networking equipment (26 percent), peripheral equipment (16 percent), and storage at 8 percent.

Several major U.S. computer firms have sold their plants in the United States to U.S. and foreign electronics manufacturing services (EMS) firms, and have also contracted out significant production to firms overseas, particularly to Taiwanese original design manufacturers (ODMs). U.S.-based computer equipment shipments dipped 3 percent in 2007, to $65.7 billion. However, domestic demand was strong for smart handheld devices, driven by technological advances and increasing use for business applications. Midrange servers and networking equipment showed moderate gains in sales, while shipments of peripheral equipment remained steady.

FDI Potential

The United States is a leading developer of computer hardware technology, making it an attractive location for foreign direct investment. Over the last several years, many foreign companies have invested in U.S. companies that specialize in cutting edge technologies, such as embedded computer systems. Small-to-medium size firms with either unique or niche market technologies are often open to mergers or acquisition in order to bolster their financial support and growth. Foreign companies see these investments as a way to expand or complement their product offerings, as well as to establish or enlarge a U.S. presence.