Momentum in Notebook Market and Healthy Consumer Growth Drive EMEA PC Sales to 10.4% in Q4 2006, Says IDC

The final quarter of 2006 delivered a performance in line with forecasts, with EMEA PC shipments reaching over 24.6 million units and growing by 10.4% compared with the same quarter the previous year, according to preliminary data released by IDC. This quarter brings growth to 11% for the full year 2006, with more than 75 million PCs shipped in the region.

Continued portable adoption, healthy consumer sales, and ongoing expansion in CEMA this quarter have again led to sustained growth of PC sales in the region, with notebook growth continuing to outpace the market at 28% year on year while desktops failed to return to positive trends. Slow commercial demand had a negative impact on growth for Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, and Lenovo. Nevertheless, HP and Acer leveraged their strength in the consumer and SMB markets to capture share, with Acer ousting Dell from the number 2 spot in the region in 4Q.

"This year has clearly marked, through the accelerated development of the notebook market, the importance of effective and time-to-market product strategies and the need for vendors to develop stronger branding strategies", said Karine Paoli, research director for IDC's EMEA Personal Computing group. "Competitive pricing and the ability to promote technology replacement cycles effectively will remain essential to drive demand and market share, but branding and customer segmentation will become increasingly important as the market continues to expand and include a larger renewal base."

Notebooks clearly continued to drive overall PC sales across the region in 4Q. Growth in Western Europe for portable PCs maintained healthy trends, as anticipated, at 20%, while expansion continued in the CEE and MEA regions with more than 60% and 50% respectively.

Demand for notebooks continued unabated in the consumer space during the Christmas quarter, fueled by very attractive offerings and price points in the mainstream 15.4in. segment and in the wider sizes (including the very attractive 17in. and larger segment), the uptake of dual-core processors, and active marketing campaigns. However, consumer desktop sales maintained disappointing trends and failed to display a return to positive growth in Western Europe. "The consumer desktop market should benefit from the migrations to Vista in 2007, but a revived interest in deskbound platforms will very much depend on the vendors' and the channel's ability to promote the next digital entertainment generation of consumer PCs", said Elsa Opitz, research manager for IDC's EMEA PC Tracker.

On the commercial side, slow demand overall continued to affect the vendors' performances, in particular in the desktop space, while commercial notebook sales continued to display healthier patterns, driven by strong desktop replacement trends still evident in the SMB space and increasing demand for portable PCs in the corporate space.

"While 2007 will benefit from an uptake of corporate refresh cycles expected to start mid-2007 and peak in 2008, migrations to Vista in the consumer and SMB space, along with continued portable adoption across the region, and an increasing renewal market, will also continue to represent key market opportunities and assist EMEA growth moving forward", said Paoli.

Vendor Highlights

HP recorded a strong final quarter of the year and further reinforced its leadership in EMEA, outpacing the market at close to 28% growth. The vendor continued to demonstrate its strength across the region, illustrated with the first position regained in the U.K. market. A strong and well-balanced product portfolio, an effective go-to-market strategy, and one of the best ever advertising campaigns with "The Computer is Personal Again" all boosted HP's performance throughout the year in both the consumer and commercial markets.

Acer continued to deliver a robust performance and dethroned Dell this quarter in second place in the overall EMEA ranking. The Taiwanese vendor maintained pressure and the lead position in the EMEA notebook market, thanks to a strong product line-up during the Christmas quarter in both the retail and SMB channels, while a stronger and very competitive desktop offering enabled the vendor to gain significant share and take third position in the desktop space.

Dell recorded another soft quarter, continuing to suffer from slow commercial demand and fierce competition from HP, while the direct vendor also suffers from intense competition in the consumer space and from the retail channel in Western Europe. The vendor nevertheless continued to demonstrate strong gains in both the CEE and MEA regions and maintains second position in the EMEA ranking for the full year 2006.

Fujitsu Siemens maintained fourth position in the overall EMEA ranking, but performance remained constrained, in particular in the consumer space, where the vendor continues to suffer from slow consumer desktop demand and fierce competition in the notebook space. The vendor fared better in the commercial space and continued to enjoy a healthy expansion in the CEE region.

Toshiba continued to gain share and reinforce its fifth position in the overall EMEA market with another strong quarter at close to 30%. The vendor continued to deliver a robust performance in the notebook market thanks to a strong product portfolio and effective retail coverage in Western Europe, while strong gains continued in the CEE region, where the vendor takes the fifth position overall.

Lenovo and Packard Bell (ranking sixth and seventh in the overall ranking in 4Q) maintained their positions, but found themselves increasingly challenged by the current competitive environment, while the notebook vendor Asus further strengthened its eighth place in the EMEA ranking, continuing to gain share across the region. Leveraging on the consumer notebook market strength, and outlining the increasing importance of branding, Apple and Sony also enjoyed another strong quarter, reinforcing their ninth and 10th positions respectively.

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