HP is still the world's biggest PC vendor, but it has slipped in the strategic EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) market where Acer has assumed the top spot.
Worldwide PC shipments reached 80,6-million units in the third quarter of 2008, a 15% increase from the third quarter last year, according to preliminary results by Gartner.
"The mini-notebook segment experienced strong growth in the global PC, led by robust growth in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region," says Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group. "In the North America market, the economic crunch created more interest in the sub-$500 (R4 604.20) segment. Because the mini-notebook is still a new segment, it is too early to determine if the emerging segment created new market opportunities, or if it cannibalised lower priced systems.
"At the same time, global PC market finally felt the impact from global economic downturn. The US professional market experienced the biggest hit from the economic crunch. The US home market saw definite softness in PC sales after a few quarters of strong growth," Kitagawa says. "The Asia/Pacific PC market was impacted by a slowdown in China. PC growth in Latin America was slow relative to historical levels, but it was still in line with the forecast."
Hewlett-Packard (HP) maintained the top position in worldwide PC shipments in the third quarter of 2008, but was impacted by a slower entry into the mini-notebook market, losing the top position in EMEA. Dell's recent expansion efforts did not equate to increased market share in the third quarter and it struggled with the professional market, especially in the EMEA and US markets.
Two vendors that had a strong focus and acted quickly in the mini-notebook segment are ASUS and Acer, with both experiencing robust growth.
Although most major vendors now have their own mini-notebook offerings, Kitagawa says it will be a challenge for these vendors to match or beat the market expansion that ASUS and Acer have attained so far.
PC shipments in EMEA totalled 28,9-million units in the third quarter of 2008, a 25,9% increase from the third quarter last year.
"The performance in the region remained strong with no real softening of demand apart from the large account segment that started to be affected by the global economic uncertainty," says Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group in EMEA. "In addition, the PC market in EMEA was largely dictated by vendors that shipped mini-notebooks and those that did not, resulting in significant movements in the top five vendor rankings."
For the first time ever since HP merged with Compaq, it lost its top position in the EMEA PC market to Acer. Acer bolstered its shipment results with significant volumes of mini-notebooks carried into the telco retail channel across Western Europe.
"HP delayed its introduction of mini-notebook into the market potentially fearing cannibalisation of its existing notebook markets but did not anticipate that Acer would be able to ramp up its channels so quickly," Atwal says.
Gartner estimates that sales of mini-notebooks represented 10% of the mobile EMEA PC shipments in the third quarter of 2008 and contributed a 7% increase to the overall PC market results, leaving the rest of the PC market to grow at around 18%.
"After making its debut in the EMEA PC market last quarter, ASUS did extremely well in the third quarter of 2008 as a result of very strong sales with its mini-notebook range that helped the company move ahead of Toshiba.
"Toshiba has lost ground this quarter but is planning to introduce a new range of mini-notebooks in the fourth quarter of 2008 that should help the company compete strongly in the fourth quarter," adds Atwal.
"Although the EMEA PC market continued to grow 20% year to date, PC vendors continued to lower the average selling price (ASP), intensified by the lower priced mini-notebooks. These ASP declines will persist in the fourth quarter of 2008 as the aftermath of worldwide concerns with the global economic crisis starts to take effect across all segments of the PC market."