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Netbooks support EMEA PC market

by Stuart Wilson, Wednesday 28 January 2009

The fast-growing market for netbooks helped to nurse the EMEA PC market through a tough fourth quarter in 2008, according to the numbercrunchers at IDC. Total PC unit sales were up just 1.8% year-on-year to 29.13 million units. HP claimed top spot with 21.6% market share, shifting 6.29 million units, with Acer in second place pumping 4.82 million units through the EMEA channel.

Market volumes remained solid in Western Europe – up 11.9% year-on-year despite the uncertain economic climate – but performed less well elsewhere in EMEA. IDC reported a contraction in Central and Eastern Europe including the two largest markets in this reporting region: Russia and Ukraine.

Strong demand for notebooks – and especially netbooks – meant that consumer sales in Western Europe climbed 56% year-on-year. This was the only bright spot in a poor overall demand picture due to the economic downturn. Desktop sales suffered due to delays in business renewals and the increased popularity of the notebook form factor.

"As expected, the Christmas season saw continued uptake of mini-notebooks driven by strong vendor push, with several manufacturers launching new products from October onwards, stimulating fierce competition for retail shelf space," said Eszter Morvay, senior research analyst for IDC.

"However, telco operators also drove strong momentum, with both first- and second-tier players setting up new partnerships and offering heavily subsidised mini-notebooks. And while standard portable sales slowed down, mini-notebooks will continue to drive market expansion and multi-equipment trends in Europe in 2009," Morvay added.

Stefania Lorenz, director for IDC’s CEMA Systems research, commented: "The worldwide financial and credit crisis has hit the largest markets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), causing the PC market to contract, by 23.8%, for the first time ever. Desktop shipments plunged by 36% and notebooks by 4.7%. CEE’s largest markets suffered credit availability in addition to the large stock of notebooks built in the third quarter of 2008. Middle East and Africa remained just afloat, reporting 0.1% growth year on year thanks to the notebook market."

Karine Paoli, associate VP for IDC’s EMEA PC research, said: “With business demand expected to further slow down in 2009 as economies continue to be affected by the global recession, and with cautious spending expected also in the consumer space, 2009 will undoubtedly be a challenging year."

"But the current convergence between PC and telco with the continued increase in share expected for the telco channel in the portable market through mini-notebook or 3G offerings will offer vendors and telco operators major growth opportunities in EMEA, albeit in an increasingly competitive platform," Paoli added.

Acer achieved solid growth in the fourth quarter – unit sales climbed 21.9% year-on-year to 4.82 million units. IDC also noted a third quarter inventory build up for Acer suggesting that this had impacted its fourth quarter performance.

Dell’s volumes were flat year-on-year as business investment slowed although this was offset to some extent by a stellar performance in the consumer notebook – especially in terms of netbooks sold through the retail channel. Dell finished third in the IDC EMEA 2008 fourth quarter rankings.

Fourth placed Asus was the star performer year-on-year with unit sales up 68.7% to 1.94 million thanks to its strong position in the netbook space and its wide portfolio in this emerging market segment.

Toshiba recorded a strong quarter with share gains across the region, which IDC attributed to, ‘a well positioned portable offering, extended with the launch of its mini-notebook product in November and effective presence across both consumer and SMB channels’. Fifth placed Toshiba’s unit sales jumped 26.7% to 1.73 million units.

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