Gartner: EMEA PC sales rise, but value fails to follow

Unit shipments of PCs in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region rose almost 17 per cent to 14.9 million in the first quarter of 2004, but the dollar value of resulting sales remained flat and related revenue even decreased in local currency terms, according to preliminary figures for the quarter, Gartner Inc. said Thursday.

It is the business market that is driving sales, taking advantage of the weak dollar to replace older PCs, Gartner research vice-president Brian Gammage said. Consumer notebook sales are still strong, but the professional market is driving the market at the moment.

For the first quarter of 2003, Acer Inc. recorded the highest growth in unit shipments, at 74.8 per cent. Market leader Hewlett-Packard Co. saw the lowest growth of the top five vendors, at 13.4 per cent, and lost share, falling from 16.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2003 to 15.8 per cent in this year’s first quarter.

“Acer is a European phenomenon at the moment, they’ve seen 120 per cent growth in notebook sales,” Gammage said. Acer has managed this success through “simple, straightforward business,” he said.

“They have a slim organization because they only sell through intermediaries, their costs are low and they are reliable in their supply,” Gammage said of Acer. There have been supply problems with other vendors, and Acer has simply been getting its forecasts right, he said.

Meanwhile, Dell Inc. has seen 37.2 per cent growth since last year, with its market share growing from 9.5 per cent to 11.1 per cent. Dell’s customer heartland is in big business and it is benefiting from the growth in that market, Gammage said.

While current trends suggest it might soon be knocked off its top spot, HP’s problems are probably temporary, Gammage said. “HP has had inventory issues and I think we’ve got to view this as a one-off. The only note of caution I’d give is that HP is in the process of reorganizing its direct sales force and its resellers dealing with large customers. They could have teething problems with that so there may be other issues ahead,” he said.

Gammage cautions that the professional market is a replacement one and therefore unable to grow indefinitely. “There is only so much market to address and at some point there will be payback. This growth can’t be sustained and it will flatten out later this year or early in 2005,” he said.