Western Europe delivered surprise results with sales of PCs in the region in Q4, up 12.1pc year-on-year with some 20.1 million units shipped. But analysts warn the road ahead will not be so smooth.
For the full year PC shipments reached 66 million units, up 17.2pc on the previous year, according to the latest Gartner vectors.
“Surprisingly, in the fourth quarter of 2008, western Europe was the strongest-performing region in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), as both central eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa were impacted severely by the worsening economic conditions,” said Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst at Gartner, based in the UK.
”Mini-notebooks continued to boost growth, reaching nearly 2.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2008, with the telco channel gathering greater importance as a route to market for the PC vendors.”
“While growth in PC sales in western Europe was good, the underlying trend was down, with the professional market experiencing a 5pc decline in the fourth quarter of 2008. If it wasn’t for mini-notebooks, the overall western European market would be showing a decline. This does not bode well for 2009, as we expect the general economic conditions to worsen,” Atwal added.
The vendors that were active in the consumer market achieved the best results, with all three major European countries—the UK, France and Germany—leading the growth.
In the fourth quarter of 2008, Asus and Toshiba recorded the highest growth as they grew mainstream notebooks on top of mini-notebook shipments. In the fourth quarter of 2008, price competition remained fierce with average selling prices falling 15pc year-on-year.
“Vendors have to manage risk in the PC business by balancing shipment levels with revenues and margins, while understanding there is still a significant PC market in 2009 with opportunities for the best-prepared vendors,” said Atwal.
Across most of western Europe, the consumer market held up well, with most vendors offering mini-notebooks through the telco channel.
These subsidised notebooks are being adopted as both replacements and additional PCs. With the economic conditions expected to worsen, these bundled broadband deals will appeal even more to consumers.
In the fourth quarter of 2008, Hewlett-Packard led the market with a 23.2pc market share, followed by Acer with a 20.3pc market share and Dell with a 10.1pc market share.
Asus increased its share in the market with impressive growth across all of its product lines. Toshiba defied the market with positive growth in both the consumer and professional markets. Dell did very well in the consumer mobile market, but saw its desk-based shipments decline 25pc across all segments.
“2009 is expected to see growth weaken in the UK and the mini-notebooks market is likely to be the only shining light in a difficult year for the PC industry,” Atwal said.
By John Kennedy
Pictured: the Asus Eee PC netbook, one of the new breed of PCs