IDC research showed European, Middle East and Africa Aptiva sales down from 65,000 units in the third quarter of 1996 to 25,000 for the equivalent period this year. In the UK, the numbers were 24,000 down to under 5,000 units. All figures are IDC estmates.
"Frankly it's a disappointment - year on year we were badly down," said Mike Lunch, managing director of the IBM Personal Systems Group.
"We had been piloting a new logistics process with a third-party supplier and it completely caught them out. We were completely unable to fulfil demand leading to a quite a number of disappointed customers and retailers."
Lunch said it was resolving the problems with the supplier.
"Volumes are coming through now but it's a pity we had these problems. It could have been the best quarter in living memory as we'd just signed a number of important retail deals with Curry's, Scottish Power and others," he said.
However, Simon Pearce, an analyst at IDC disputed Lunch's reasons. "Compaq Presario is down about 40 per cent year on year too. When you see how much IBM and Compaq spent last year on advertising to build up brand equity, and then you look at this year - it's not very much by comparison. And the reason is it's a sector where it's difficult to make money."
Peace also noted that the price delta between blue chips and smaller brands has grown again, giving share to companies like Time and Tiny.