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Electronics Production | May 22, 2007

PC Shipments in Western Europe Grew 11%

PC shipments in Western Europe totaled 13.3 million units in the first quarter of 2007, an 11.25 percent growth compared to the same period in 2006.
Sales of PCs in the consumer market continued to bolster the overall PC shipments driven by the unabated demand for mobile PCs. In the first quarter of 2007, 50 percent of all PCs purchased were mobile PCs. The first quarter of 2007 will be the strongest quarter this year, exhibiting a double digit growth. Gartner predicts the PC market in Western Europe will reach an eight percent growth in 2007.

UK: Dell continued to lose out in the consumer upturn

PC shipments in the UK totaled 2.8 million units in the first quarter of 2007, an increase of 14 percent compared to the same period in 2006. The consumer market led the growth with a 23 percent increase whist the professional market lagged behind exhibiting an 8 percent growth.

Sales of mobile PCs in the UK continued to drive overall PC sales. Shipments of mobile PCs were up 47 percent from the first quarter of 2006.This trend has become akin to the speed at which mobile phones were adopted.

“The PC has become an essential communication and content access device for all ages. In the UK, more than 70 percent of households will own a PC in 2007," said Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst for Gartner's Computing Platform Group.

PC vendors are exploiting all various market channels to best take advantage of the strong consumer mobile demand. Retail is still a key and fragmenting; you can buy a PC outside the specialist PC stores in places like supermarkets, toy and stationary stores.

The incentive to purchase a mobile PC is still the touch and feel approach and Dell continues to lose out in this respect. Dell had another weak performance in the first quarter of 2007, recording an 11 percent decline. Acer and Hewlett Packard fuelled the growth thanks to competitive priced mobile PCs.

“Some concerns remained among PC vendors who currently have to face high PC inventory levels in the channel but these should clear out as strong demand continues to thrive in the second half of the year," added Mr. Atwal.

PC shipments in France totaled 2.2 million units in the first quarter of 2007, an increase of 15 percent compared the same period in 2006. The consumer market grew 34 percent while the professional market declined one percent year-on-year.

“One of the main highlight of the quarter was the strong consumer demand of 17" screen size mobile PCs," said Isabelle Durand, principal analyst for Gartner's Computing Platform Group, based in France. Sales in the consumer mobile PC market continued to outpace those in the consumer desktop PC market. They represented 54 percent of total sales in the consumer PC segment in the first quarter of 2007. “This trend which started in the fourth quarter of 2006 continued to accelerate and increased two percentage points from last quarter," Ms Durand added. Acer's performance helped the company to move up to the No.2 spot behind Hewlett-Packard, making Packard Bell step down in third position.

The positioning of the top five vendors changed compared to the same quarter last year with Fujitsu Siemens conceding the No. 5 position to Toshiba. Among the leading five vendors only Acer, Toshiba and Packard Bell managed to perform above the market average. In addition, Hewlett-Packard and Dell lost market share year-on-year to the detriment of Acer, Packard Bell, Toshiba and the other vendors. Dell had a difficult quarter as a result of a weak demand for desktop PCs with mid and large accounts. Those accounts are currently in the period of the replacement cycle and the transition from desktop to mobile PCs. Once again aggressive pricing activity helped Acer to achieve good results and take advantage of the growth in the mobile market.

“In the second quarter of 2007, we will see a weaker growth affected by the electoral campaign. Nicolas Sarkosy's appointment as France's new president could also influence the market especially in the public and education sectors, where the budgets could likely be put on hold," Ms. Durand concluded.

Germany continued to exhibit single digit growth but under-performed in Western Europe

With a significant upturn in the German economy, and stronger consumer confidence despite a three percent VAT rise in January, the German PC market continued to recover after a shaky 2006. PC shipments in Germany totaled 2.4 million units in the first quarter of 2007, representing an increase of six percent compared with the same period last year. Nevertheless, Germany still under-performed compared to the rest of the Western European market.

“Part of the problem is that Microsoft Vista has yet to capture the hearts and minds of German businesses, partly because Germany remains a high price pressure market with margins being on average two percent lower than elsewhere," said Mr. Atwal. This has led to the decline of local mass market vendors and opening the door for Asian notebook vendors and A-Brand vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, which both sought opportunities in high end mobile, entertainment or gaming PCs. Fujitsu Siemens and Toshiba suffered as vendors like Medion signed competitive new deals with retailers, which saw the vendor gain share again.

The outlook for Germany in 2007 is slightly better than in 2006 and Gartner predicts that the country will maintain a single digit growth of five percent in the second half of the year.

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