Sunday, May 03, 2009

PC sales drop in MEA region, for the first time

It is now clear that the PC market is not recession proof. Sales figures coming out of our region, the Middle East & Africa (MEA), suggest that the days of soaring growth are over.

International Data Corp (IDC) has revealed that sales growth was flat from quarter four 2008 to quarter one 2009, and have even showed a decline year-on-year during the first quarter. This means that the double-digit growth of the past few years may be over.

The IDC numbers show that a total of 3.5 million units were sold into “the channel” between January and March, this is but 6 percent lower than a year ago. It could have been worse, if there wasn’t such a high demand for portable PCs.

It is important to note that the Middle East and Africa numbers include sales in the huge markets of Turkey and South Africa, which may ‘tip the scales’.

Which brings us to the country level. In the Gulf, shipments of desktops and notebooks in Saudi Arabia increased 10 percent year-on-year during the first quarter, but the UAE contracted 6 percent over the same period. This is understandable, considering how connected the UAE market is to the global economy, whereas Saudi Arabia seems somewhat recession-proof up to this point.

The notes made by Stefania Lorenz, research director CEMA systems at IDC, don’t provide much comfort. She says that the MEA region was negatively affected by a 13 percent decline in desktops, but notebooks saw a 2 percent growth year-on-year, driven by the stronger uptake on mini-notebooks. So, it would seem the Netbook phenomena may rescue overall sales.

She goes on to explain that that IDC had been used seeing much stronger growth in the region, up until the fourth quarter of 2008 when the financial crisis hit.
That’s why IDC’s prediction for 2009 is that we shall have a “flat or slightly negative” market situation.

Although this sounds bleak, it’s better than the worst case scenarios for the Middle East, when there were fears that the PC market was in free fall.

A quick look at the ‘bigger picture’ shows another neighboring region doing even worse. When IDC includes Europe, and looks at the EMEA region, there’s a slump of 10 percent year-on-year to 21.5 million, as units sales in Central and Eastern Europe have crashed 41 percent. So, it seems we’re doing relatively alright.

Regarding the top vendors, IDC reveals that HP continues to maintain its lead in the MEA region, with 21 percent of the market, Acer is second claiming 11 percent, overtaking Dell who now holds third position. Toshiba occupies the fourth position, followed by LG and Fujitsu Siemens. Apparently, brands still matter to consumers, as the top five players performed better than the market average.


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