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Bloodbath in W.Europe PC market

First half sales down 10 per cent

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PC sales in Europe's seven biggest economies slumped maybe as much as 10 per cent in the first half of the year, according to market research firm Context. And it ain't going to get any better in the second half, with "the cost associated with Microsoft's new licensing system is diverting funds away from hardware purchases".

Context also notes that large business spending is still "extremely cautious, with many major accounts deferring purchases even longer and choosing to upgrade equipment rather than replace it".

First half Sales overall may not be quite so bad as the headline figure suggests - Context tracks only sales through the indirect channel - and that means no Dell and under-reporting of white-box system builders. But that's small cheer to the likes of HP/Compaq, IBM and Fujitsu Siemens.

Context has assembled provisional figures only for June, so the figures below are all for the first five months of the year, and they are compared with the same period in 2001.

Desktop sales were down 14 per cent, mobile sales were down 0.3 per cent, shored up by buoyant retail sales, server sales slumped seven per cent.

Business sales fell 13.2 per cent, with desktop sales to business down 16.2 per cent. Mobile PC sales to this sector were down 6.1 per cent. According to Context, small and medium businesses are showing increasing acceptance of white box system builders. More bad news for the A-brand PC vendors.

The retail sector did better than business, almost entirely on the back of "unprecedented demand for low-cost, desktop processor powered notebooks". Sales were down 2.9 per cent overall, but June was a terrible month, with consumers more keen on buying AV equipment to watch the World Cup than shelling out for PC. Retail desktop PC sales were down 10.2 per cent, but this average is flattered by shipments January which recorded a flat year-on-year performance. ®

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