European PC sales fall, but beat global trend

A decline of 5.1 per cent in PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in the fourth quarter of last year isn’t great news — but it’s better than the 6.7 per cent fall measured worldwide by research company International Data Corp. (IDC).

Vendors are seeing Europe as a strong prospect, says IDC research manager Andrew Brown. “Penetration rates and saturation levels are lower – many markets are only just starting to see second-time buyers.” Compared with the saturated U.S. market, he said, Europe is very attractive.

Consolidation in the market continues, with the top 5 vendors representing more than 45 per cent of total EMEA shipments, according to a summary of a report released Friday. Compaq Computer Corp. has retained overall leadership in the EMEA market with 14.3 per cent market share, despite losing its top position worldwide to Dell.

Compaq also took the top spot in the notebook market for both Q4 and the full year, it said.

For the fourth quarter, Compaq was followed by Dell Computer Corp., which held a 9.6 per cent market share. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) was next in line with 8.5 per cent of the market. Fujitsu Siemens Computers BV grabbed 8.4 per cent, and IBM Corp. trailed the top five with 5.9 per cent of the market.

Local vendors continue to be active in the desktop area and have made a strong push into the notebook market, the report said.

EMEA vendors face the same problems that confront their counterparts elsewhere — companies are tightening budgets and putting off upgrades, consumers are “affected by the lack of compelling reasons for upgrades,” despite the launch of Microsoft Corp. Windows XP, and only small businesses saved PC sales from falling even further, IDC said in comments included with the report.

However, the market does seem to be bouncing back. In particular, there’s a “healthy appetite for notebooks” among European buyers, Brown said.

Notebook sales are stronger than desktop sales, in both the business and consumer markets, IDC’s report said. Brown said he believes the consumer sales are due to “more savvy” second-time buyers, and to a recent price war.

“New players in the market are driving down notebook prices, the specs are right, and many consumers now see them as a serious, attractive alternative,” said Brown.

IDC is a division of International Data Group Inc., the parent company of IDG News Service.

IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts, can be reached at +1-508-872-8200 or at