PC and notebook sales increased strongly during 2003 as corporate refresh cycles began to kick in, analyst IDC has reported.
Sales for the fourth quarter were up 18 per cent on the same period in 2002, and sales for the year were up 14.8 per cent over 2002, with notebook sales increasing by more than 40 per cent.
Notebook sales in particular have been driven by strong demand from the small and medium sized business and consumer markets, and only shortage of supply held the market back.
Karine Paoli, research director at IDC's EMEA Personal Computing Group, said: "There's a clear improvement over last year.
"Corporate refresh cycles are starting to boost sales and we think this will be repeated in 2004 as budgets free up further and some of the larger corporates start wholesale upgrades.
"In the longer term, however, there is a move away from the PC towards notebooks and this will only get more prevalent as time goes on."
Intense price competition and price rises for some key components have kept margins on PCs fairly tight. Shortages of flat panel displays, particularly at the 15in size, look set to continue this year.
Server sales were also strong, with sales up 30 per cent in the UK. Blade servers were particularly popular, and IDC suggested that this may mean they are the top choice for renewals. Here again, small and medium businesses were driving demand.
Almost all major vendors have been focusing on the channel to build demand. Acer in particular was singled out for using the channel to boost sales in western Europe.
Rebecca Eaton, head of product marketing at reseller Misco, said that unit sales had definitely increased, but that the news wasn't all good.
"Price point pressure has unfortunately kept revenue down," she said. "Some manufacturers are trying to buy market share at the moment, but I see sales being strong for quite some time to come."
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