Netbooks prop up European PC sales

The explosion in mini-laptop sales has boosted Acer to the number-one spot in Europe, and helped the EMEA market show overall growth

The continued surge in popularity of 'netbooks', or mini-laptops, helped the PC market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa see strong growth in the third quarter of this year. It also helped push netbook vendor Acer to the top of the overall EMEA PC market for the quarter, according to new figures from IDC.

Laptops and netbooks helped the overall EMEA PC market grow 27 percent over the same quarter last year, largely fuelled by consumer demand, IDC said. While business confidence is seeing troubled times, IDC found that thus far consumer demand for portable computers shows no sign of slowing.

"The development expected of the new 'mini notebook' segment could well balance the impact of any potential downturn and maintain buoyancy in the EMEA PC market in 2009, at least in unit terms," said Karine Paoli, associate vice president for IDC's EMEA personal computing research, in a statement.

Vendors' profits are, however, likely to suffer from continued price erosion and currency fluctuations, Paoli said.

The company estimated that more than two million netbooks were shipped in EMEA in the third quarter, mainly through retail but further boosted by the rising number of bundling deals, in which telcos offer a netbook along with mobile broadband.

Such deals largely benefited Asus and Acer, and the two now hold a combined market share of more than 80 percent in the segment, IDC said. Unit volumes are likely to rise towards four million in the fourth quarter with the approach of Christmas, the company said.

Acer reached the top spot in the EMEA PC market for the first time in the third quarter, with 21.3 percent of the market, up from 14.2 percent the same quarter a year ago. It was followed by HP with 18.7 percent, and Dell with 9.5 percent.

Asus reached the fourth-place spot with sales of more than two million of its Eee PC netbook range, a boom which IDC said was aided by the vendor's widespread deals with telecommunications providers.