Local system builders lost market share to the big PC brands during the fourth quarter of 2003 in EMEA, according to a report from Gartner Research.
Smaller PC players accounted for 62.5 per cent of the market in Q4 2002, but only 57.6 per cent in Q4 last year. Cut-throat price wars and component shortages hurt the system builder community more than the tier-one suppliers, which continued to outgrow the market.
Gartner claimed that the loss of share among system builders increases the likelihood of consolidation throughout 2004.
"Many regional and smaller PC assemblers struggled to defend their positions, both as a result of continued price erosion and shortages of key notebook PC components such as LCD panels," said Ranjit Atwal, analyst with Gartner's PC hardware group in Europe.
"Acer, Fujitsu Siemens and IBM recorded the highest growth rates in Q4. Acer became the number-one commercial mobile PC vendor in EMEA during Q4."
Despite falling market share, system builders grew their Q4 2003 shipments by 8.1 per cent over the same period in 2002. Forecasts for the overall market in Q1 2004 and the rest of the year are also strong, thanks to a recovery in business spending and strengthening consumer sales.
Gartner claimed that Q1 sales in the PC sector will top 44 million units, up 13.3 per cent on the same period in 2003. "The strong growth seen in the second half of the year is expected to continue in EMEA into 2004," said Atwal.
"At a worldwide level, our new forecasts predict that the PC market will reach 187 million units in 2004, a 13.9 per cent increase from 2003. We expect the market to experience double-digit growth during all four quarters in 2004."
Terry Fisher, business development manager at Compusys, said: "Sales have been picking up fast in Q1. The public sector is proving very strong.
With universities knowing they will be getting more cash thanks to tuition fees, IT spending plans that were put on the back burner are starting to go ahead.
"There also seems to be more money around in the business sector, as firms that held off replacing their desktops have to upgrade. It's not just because new software won't run on them, but support for older operating systems such as Windows 98 will soon be withdrawn. Windows 2000 support will be the next to go."
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