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IDC: PC market slowing...pretty much everywhere

Q1 padded by small, cheap love

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Industry beancounter IDC has tallied some new numbers on the PC market for the first quarter of 2009 — and surprise — they're looking down pretty much everywhere.

First quarter PC shipments in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) suffered their first yearly decline since the 2001 dot com bust, according to IDC.

Which is pretty notable — and not just assuming you accept IDC lumping a huge and diverse chunk of civilization together. Fact is, PC makers' accounting books are black and white and red all over.

Both consumers and businesses are spending less on computers these days, and the PC makers are feeling it. But fortunately, there's a bright spot in the industry for cheap portable computers that's making otherwise nasty figures easier to swallow.

By far the biggest drop came from Central and Eastern Europe, where PC shipments fell a whopping 41 per cent compared to last year. Only a few countries in the region reported growth. Standouts in the area were Czech Republic and Slovakia, which IDC dubbed as having the most "dynamic" positive change.

The Middle East and Africa, meanwhile, fared better with a relatively small slide of 6.1 per cent compared to last year's Q1. IDC said while the desktop market had the lowest drop ever in Q1, the portable computer market (in Africa especially) kept the overall PC numbers up.

Western Europe dusted itself off with no worse than a 0.5 per cent drop in overall PC shipments. That's mostly thanks to continued demand on the consumer side for small, cheap computers. Business PC sales didn't strike nearly so pretty a figure, dropping 14.8 per cent year-over-year for both desktop and portable shipments.

"The mini notebook momentum continued unabated in the first quarter, with shipments reaching over 2.5m, in line with IDC's forecast," Eszter Morvay, the firm's EMEA researcher said. "Whilst Acer and Asus continued to lead the Mini Notebook market, smaller vendors such as Samsung are taking advantage of this unique market opportunity to gain stronger footing in the European PC market and grab market share from traditional PC makers."

HP once again dominated the market with 21.5 per cent of overall PC shipments in the EMEA neighborhood. Acer was second (17.5 per cent), followed by Dell (9.8 per cent), Toshiba (6.8 per cent), and Asus (4.3 per cent).

Over in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan for some reason), IDC's figures show the market declined 5 per cent compared to the first quarter of last year.

Our new pals, miniature computers, were there to save this slice of the world as well. Portable PCs in the key markets: China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan were strong, making portable shipments rise 12 per cent over Q1 2008.

IDC's Asia/Pacific researcher Bryan Ma said it was "somewhat relieving" to see the region's markets able to hold up the firm's forecasts, especially compared to a "dismal fourth quarter."

"That does not mean that we are out of the woods yet though," said Ma. "The economy is still showing mixed signals, and recent political instability in markets like Thailand created further uncertainty. Commercial buying is thus still likely to remain questionable this year, but hopefully consumer portables can help offset that."

The top vendor in the region is Lenovo (controlling 16.9 per cent of the market), followed closely by HP (16.1 per cent), Dell (8.5 per cent), Acer (7.4 per cent), and Founder (4.5 per cent.) ®

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