Small PC makers lose out as shipments surge

Europe is seeing its biggest PC sales growth since the heady days of 1999, but the good times are not boosting consumer demand or helping smaller computer vendors
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Europe's PC market is seeing its strongest growth since 1999, but smaller PC vendors are unlikely to see much benefit from the trend, according to preliminary figures from analyst group Gartner.

Gartner's estimates for PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for the second quarter of this year, released on Wednesday, show the market had grown by 13 percent compared with the same quarter in 2002, boosted by better-than-expected business PC purchases. Consumer sales, however, have not rebounded, and smaller PC assemblers are seeing volumes fall, Gartner said.

The figures are good news for the struggling PC industry, which has foundered since a Millennium Bug-inspired spending spree in the late 1990s. The drop-off in corporate demand has particularly affected Europe and North America.

Corporations became more willing to spend in the second quarter, Gartner said, partly due to new technology and macroeconomic factors. "The introduction of new mobile PC ranges and the fall in dollar exchange rates encouraged businesses to accelerate call-off against existing contracts," the company stated.

Following the trend of recent quarters, demand for mobile PCs was strong, particularly for laptops using Intel's recently-introduced Pentium M processor -- the core of the Centrino chip package.

IBM was one of the major beneficiaries of growth in the corporate segment, in a turnaround from the situation in the last two years, in which it lost market share. The company shipped 582,000 units in the second quarter, taking 6 percent of the market, Gartner estimated, up nearly 19 percent from the same quarter last year.

Dell and Acer grew the fastest compared with Q2 of 2002, with Dell jumping from 837,000 to just over 1 million units to take 11.3 percent of the market; a 31.2 percent increase. Acer grew 25.3 percent to take a 5.1 percent share of the market, with 487,000 units shipped.

HP, still the top vendor in the region, took an estimated 19.5 percent of the market in the second quarter, up 13.3 percent from Q2 2002. Gartner said that this healthy growth figure was helped by a particularly dismal second quarter last year.

Consumer sales are not following the corporate trend, however, with many PC vendors, both large and small, reporting that retail demand was below expectations. Smaller vendors were particularly squeezed, and Gartner said this trend was likely to accelerate consolidation amongst players.

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