Compaq hit hardest by PC buy freeze

Businesses in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region in the first quarter of 2002 still had buying new PCs on hold, hitting Compaq Computer Corp.’s shipments in the region the hardest, Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner Inc. said Thursday.

Compaq, despite the fact that its main clientele kept a close eye on spending, held on to its number-one position in the EMEA PC market. The Houston vendor shipped 1.32 million units, down 6.1 per cent from last year, but good for a 12.7 per cent market share, Dataquest said in its preliminary review of the EMEA PC market for first three months of 2002.

Dell Computer Corp., in Round Rock, Tex., is the runner-up with 992,000 units shipped, up 8.4 per cent year-on-year, giving it a 9.7 per cent market share. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), in Palo Alto, Calif., takes third place with 847,000 units shipped, up two per cent from last year, and good for a 8.3 per cent share of the market, according to Dataquest.

The comparison with last year’s first quarter is slightly distorted as last year was far from typical. The last three quarters showed an overall decline after a strong first quarter. That strong first quarter is now distorting the figures, Dataquest said.

Dell did feel the effects of the budget squeeze. The company’s shipment growth per centage dropped after holding steady in the high teens in the past year. HP was also affected, but to a lesser extent than Compaq, according to Dataquest.

Vendors can breathe easy, as corporate demand is set to rebound before the end of this year and possibly sooner, said Brian Gammage, principal analyst with Gartner in Egham, England.

“Corporates are still not buying, but they will have to come back into the market towards the end of the year because of the replacement cycle. Ongoing price increases might have some effect. Some corporates, if they have a volume order, might bring it forward to get a cost advantage,” he said.

Overall, PC shipments in the EMEA region in the quarter rose two per cent from last year to a total of 10.23 million units. The region continues to move at two speeds, with double-digit growth in Eastern Europe offset by a four per cent decline in Western Europe, according to Dataquest.

“In terms of relative performance the dynamic hasn’t changed significantly over the last nine months, but we are moving back to a market that is moving into a positive growth area. However, it is only an early indicator that we are on the way to a wider recovery in IT spending that we expect to see in the second half of next year,” Gammage said.