Despite gloomy forecasts, European sales of PCs achieved double digit growth in the fourth quarter last year - but are likely to slip back this year.
According to the latest figures from IDC, the western European market maintained healthy sales increases of 12 per cent, just below the worldwide rate of 15 per cent.
?The results were more encouraging than expected, with good growth in the UK, France and the Netherlands,? said Terry Ernest-Jones, an IDC analyst.
But predictions for 1998 are not as optimistic, with the western European market forecast to show a decline in growth to just eight per cent.
Worldwide, the stronger than expected results for Europe helped to offset weakened demand from Asia, which saw growth fall to 14 per cent compared to more than 20 per cent in the previous two quarters.
IDC believes the currency crisis in south east Asia in the third quarter led to a ripple effect on demand in the final period of the year. Higher prices, lower government spending, decreased consumer demand and a lack of credit to fuel PC expansion were all symptoms of the massive currency devaluation.
But the emerging markets in eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America began to accelerate and showed growth of nearly 20 per cent.
Compaq, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell dominated the market with each showing more than 40 per cent growth in shipments last year. Compaq retained its number one position in the global market for the fourth year running, with a 19 per cent share of the US market and 14 per cent world-wide. IBM remained in second place followed by Dell, HP and Packard Bell-NEC.
Packard Bell-NEC was the only vendor in the top five to see a drop in performance with shipments falling by just over two per cent on 1996.
Worldwide, IDC has lowered its 1998 forecasts from 12.93 million to 12.63 million unit shipments due to the continuing impact of the Asia crisis. Japan is expected to recover slightly and is expected to post a modest growth of five per cent.
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