European PC shipments fall below forecasts

No end in sight for sales slowdown

Europe's PC shipments for the end of last year were expected to be poor, in light of profit warnings by several global PC and microprocessor manufacturers, and new research has confirmed it: the market grew only 5.3 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2000, according to preliminary figures from research firm Gartner Dataquest.

Shipments totalled 11 million units for the quarter, a 5.3 percent increase over the same period in 1999. Several PC makers, notably Fujitsu Siemens, the joint venture between Japan's Fujitsu and Germany's Siemens, experienced negative growth for the quarter.

The results mean that any recovery in the European PC market is still a ways off, with some analysts saying the market is approaching saturation. "Fourth quarter PC shipments to the European consumer segment were far below expected levels, with negative growth rates in a number of countries," said Brian Gammage, an analyst with Gartner's Dataquest Europe, in a statement. "The professional segment showed modest growth, but not enough to indicate an end of the lockdown we saw for much of 2000."

Gartner's figures are even worse than the preliminary numbers from research firm Context, which earlier this week said shipments rose 6.9 percent. In any case, the numbers are far below what the PC industry has grown used to: 20 percent growth in 1997 and 1998, followed by 11.7 percent growth last year.

Figures from IDC are expected later this week.

Compaq is still the top PC maker in the region, with a 13.6 percent share, up four percent from Q4 of 1999. Fujitsu Siemens holds the number two spot, with 8.7 percent, but is down from 10 percent the previous year.

Dell is the third largest retailer, growing 11.2 percent to control 7.6 percent of the market. Hewlett-Packard and IBM are tied for the fourth-largest manufacturer, both controlling 7.1 percent of the market. However, Gartner expects HP to take over the fourth-place position from IBM.

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