Surprise figures from Gartner show that the PC market in Western Europe grew 12,1% in the fourth quarter of 2008, for an average growth for the year of 17,2%, with sub-notebooks driving much of the growth.
PC shipments in Western Europe totalled 20,1-million units in the fourth quarter of 2008, and 66-million units for the full year.
"Surprisingly, in the fourth quarter of 2008, Western Europe was the strongest performing region in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) as both Central Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa were impacted severely by the worsening economic conditions," says Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst at Gartner.
"Mini-notebooks continued to boost growth, reaching nearly 2,5-million units in the fourth quarter of 2008, with the telco channel gathering greater importance as a route to market for the PC vendors," he says.
"While growth in PC sales in Western Europe was good, the underlying trend was down, with the professional market experiencing a 5% decline in the fourth quarter of 2008. If it wasn't for mini-notebooks, the overall Western European market would be showing a decline. This does not bode well for 2009 as we expect the general economic conditions to worsen," Atwal adds.
The vendors that were active in the consumer market achieved the best results, with the three major European countries – the UK, France and Germany – leading the growth. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Asus and Toshiba recorded the highest growth as they grew mainstream notebooks on top of mini-notebook shipments.
In the fourth quarter of 2008, price competition remained fierce, with average selling prices falling 15% year-on-year.
"Vendors have to manage risk in the PC business by balancing shipment levels with revenues and margins, while understanding there is still a significant PC market in 2009 with opportunities for the best prepared vendors," says Atwal.
In the fourth quarter 2008, Acer maintained its leadership but grew below the market average mainly due to its limited performance on the desktop professional market. It continued to achieve strong results in the mobile PC market with 54% growth in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Asus maintained its strong performance with its Eee PC that represented nearly 60% of all Asus PC shipments. This performance allowed the vendor to gain the
fourth position, displacing Toshiba in the overall PC market and to reach the number three spot in the mobile market.
The overall market was driven by strong mobile PC sales that accounted for 66% of total PC shipments. Volumes increased 36% compared with the fourth quarter of 2007.