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Retail PC sales flat in Germany, France (but not in UK)

HP under pressure

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Sales of PCs in December 2002 by large retailers were flat in Europe's top three economies, down one per cent in unit terms compared to the same month a
year ago.

Sales in Germany and France were particularly disappointing, with only the UK - with 7.7 per cent growth in retail PC sales last month - bucking the downward trend.

That's according to early figures from analyst firm analyst firm Context's PC Retail Panel which suggest desktop PCs were the dominant sellers in the month, accounting for almost half (49.8 per cent) of PC sales by volume.

Consumers, however, increasingly favour laptops which accounted for 31.4 per cent of Context's panellist sales in December 2002, compared to 23.1 per cent in December 2001.

In notebook PCs, Toshiba's retail sales strategy has "paid off handsomely" and propelled the vendor into the number one notebook PC sales slot in Context's Retail Panel in Germany, France and the UK with a 25.1 per cent share of December's sales.

Amongst the stronger vendors picking up on consumer demand for notebook PCs in December were Apple, Acer, Gericom, Samsung and FSC, all with strong double and even triple digit growth rates.

Contrast that with HP: its branded notebooks hardly figured in the month, and HP's Compaq branded product sales declined 4.6 per cent, according to Context.

Meanwhile, Sony went through a period of flat notebook sales for December 2002 but can draw comfort from strong success in the handheld PC market.

Sales of Sony's Clie products, as registered by the Context Retail Panel, were seven times, bigger in December 2002 than in December 2001, making Sony the number two handheld PC vendor with 26.6 per cent share of sales last month.

In first place was Palm with 46.2 per cent of the Panel's sales, helped along by the success of its entry-level Zire handheld.

Meanwhile HP handheld sales slumped, leaving it in the number three spot with a 16.4 per cent market share.

"HP's Jornada line of handheld PCs disappeared from retail shelves at the end of the year, but the iPAQ did not fill the gap, and overall HP retail sales of handheld PCs were down 50.2% in December 2002 compared with the same month the year previously," Context notes, adding that iPAQ sales declined 5.2 per cent in the same period.

Medion and Packard Bell accounted for almost half of the Context Retail Panel desktop PC sales, but dominating the overall sales figures for all PC types in Germany, France and the UK is Packard Bell.

While the Context Retail Panel's sales were essentially flat in December, results for the final quarter of 2002 are showing a growth rate of just over 6 per cent, consistent with figures released yesterday by Gartner Dataquest that cover the whole of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. ®

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