The market research company believes that a large part of the reason can be pinned down to one country: Germany. Sales fell by four per cent compared to the year earlier quarter but the country is still the largest single contributor. For all 1996, Germany was up just 2.6 per cent. By contrast, France jumped 10.9 per cent and the UK by 9.1 per cent.
Leading brands remained Compaq with 12.2 per cent and IBM with 9.6 per cent of the market by units. Both Apple and Olivetti slipped badly.
PCDN Comment: Discerning wood from trees became tougher than ever in a cloudy fourth quarter. Helping the chiaroscuro effect were the sharp variations in the general economies of individual countries, particularly the contrasting fortunes of Britain and Germany. Finally, there is a wide swing between some of the numbers being reported: Context pinned fourth quarter growth at 11.4 per cent, for example. Another factor X was MMX missing the Christmas market. A breezy first quarter of 1997 could lighten the gloom considerably.