Intense price competition and demand for notebooks helped PC shipments across EMEA to enjoy a healthy rebound during last year, which culminated in a 17.2 per cent increase during the last quarter.
According to the latest market research from IDC overall sales for the whole of 2004 jumped by almost a fifth, with close to 60 million PCs shipped in the region.
In addition to aggressive pricing and notebook demand, growth was fuelled by a strong euro and increased commercial investment.
"The momentum in notebook growth continued unabated in Europe as anticipated, with notebook shipments recording another solid quarter at 35 per cent," said Karine Paoli, research director for IDC's Personal Computing group.
"Buoyant consumer demand over the Christmas period, and strong desktop replacement trends in the SMB market, have continued to assist overall growth across EMEA."
The strength of the euro helped vendors to maintain very competitive price points, with continued price erosion observed in the final quarter of 2004.
However, the level of demand outpaced supply capabilities, and CPU shortages in Celeron M products, for instance, prevented even further growth.
Desktop sales displayed softer trends, directly affected by the increasing shift towards portable systems in the consumer and small business markets. But unit volumes were largely sustained and the desktop market continues to represent over 60 per cent of total PC sales.
Total desktop sales grew by over 10 per cent, in line with expectations and driven by business renewals, with corporates still focusing on essential infrastructure upgrades and an uplift in consumer demand for multimedia systems and digital applications.
"Media Center PCs have not yet taken off into the mass-market, but are providing consumers with a credible digital entertainment platform not yet fully matched by mobile PCs," said Ian Gibbs, senior research analyst with IDC's European Personal Computing Team.
The UK market, according to IDC, performed well at 16 per cent growth, Germany recorded softer results, affected by lower business investment levels, but France and Southern Europe (Spain, Italy, Portugal) returned to high growth rate levels.
"Growth has clearly been helped this year by the boom in the portable market along with a significant rebound in commercial investment. The EMEA region will continue to offer many opportunities for growth in 2005, particularly around mobility, consumer developments and EU expansion," said Paoli.
"The recent announcement of IBM selling its PC business to Lenovo outlines the challenges that the industry players will continue to face, however, as competition will remain fierce and prices are not expected to turn upwards within the next 12 months."
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