Hewlett-Packard has become the biggest foreign personal computer supplier in China, according to an independent research firm. International Data Corp (IDC) Asia Pacific said Hewlett Packard (HP) had 11.4 per cent of the China market in terms of value in the second quarter, with Compaq at 11 per cent. In jumping to the No 1 position, HP moves up from fourth in the previous quarter. This position is based on revenue, not unit sales, where HP is now in the No 2 position. 'We are proud that China is the first major market in the world where HP is No 1 in total PC revenues,' HP Asia Pacific marketing manager Steve Haslett said. Forty per cent of HP's Asian business was in China and by the year 2000 HP hoped to be doing US$2 billion worth of business in China, Mr Haslett said. HP vice-president and managing director for Asia Pacific Lee Ting said the Asia region employed 20,000 people and created $5 billion in revenues. HP chief executive officer Lew Platt said: 'We are a company that has very good momentum, particularly in Asia. [In China] we went in and tried to study the market.' HP's growth in the PC market has been extraordinary. A few years ago, HP was not even a player in the market. According to IDC, HP is now No 5 in the world behind Compaq, IBM, Apple and NEC. IDC has also called HP the hottest vendor in the industry. HP puts its success down to its reputation and the recent trend for consumers to prefer a brand name computer to a 'garage box'. Also, HP has been in China for a long time and success in China often requires a long-term investment. HP vice-president and general manager for the personal information products group (PPG) Duane Zitzner said HP had many advantages over its competitors. 'We are a systems company,' he said, referring to the broad spectrum of HP products available. Mr Zitzner said that successful companies had ridden the wave of computer sales and made a lot of money but had no idea where the market was going and little desire to influence it. HP was different, he said. HP has been aiming at the small business/small office market - once known as the small office/home office (Soho). Homes and small offices have different requirements. Small businesses are more likely to want to buy a product from a recognised company. Individuals looking for a machine to use at home are more tempted by cheaper versions. Even the home is changing and Mr Zitzner said that with a little education, the home user would change from buying the cheapest to buying what worked. With Windows 95 and the plug-and-play (PnP) technology that is supposed to make it easy to attach peripherals to the computer, a brand name computer has a far better chance of actually accomplishing PnP than a computer whose parts are unknown. Nevertheless, it will probably take a little time before the average consumer decides that cheaper is not always better. Mr Platt associates much of HP's recent success with the merger of the Unix and Wintel parts of the HP organisation. In the past, two groups of people would often go to a company to provide solutions to computer problems: the Unix group would say one thing and the PC group would say something else. According to Mr Platt, HP could provide a total solution for its customers. 'We can now meet all the needs of the enterprise.' In China, HP recently opened a printer factory near Shanghai. Mr Platt said there were no immediate plans to open other factories in China, but added: 'The Pudong printer factory will probably not be the last'.