Could Q3 be a bumper quarter?

No surprises from IDC’s latest set of PC shipment figures for the Middle East. The war in Iraq seems to have had a negligible effect on business, and most markets continued as normal.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  August 23, 2003

No surprises from IDC’s latest set of PC shipment figures for the Middle East. The war in Iraq seems to have had a negligible effect on business, and most markets continued as normal.

In the UAE servers continue to show the strongest growth, up by 57%. With more and more local assemblers going into server building the strong demand is a positive indicator for the market, and one that assemblers would do well to heed.

Notebooks are as popular as ever, growing 31% year on year. What is going to be interesting in this segment is the impact that Centrino makes. Many notebook vendors have been cutting prices to clear stock on non-Centrino models ahead of the introduction of new lines.

The question is whether consumers will be willing to go for expensive new Centrino lines. So far sales of Centrino have been somewhat slow, and mostly confined to business buyers. Intel says it is not unduly worried, as the market is new and will take a while to pick up, but the technology is going to need a lot of buy-in from consumers to really make it a success.

If notebook prices rise just because of the incorporation of a new technology that consumers don’t yet understand and can’t use in that many places due to the relatively slow roll out of hot spots in the region, then Centrino could struggle in the Middle East.

From Saudi the story was the same as ever. Notebooks grew by 71%, servers also rose by 39% and PC desktops declined. The server and desktop markets were both skewed by major purchases by big government bodies.

Government spending helped drive growth in the rest of the GCC, with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar all showing large shipments, usually of notebooks for the government and education sectors.

IDC expects to see the market rise again as we enter the Autumn, and I would predict that it could perhaps be a bumper quarter ahead. While the summer has not been totally quiet—Tech Data’s summer campaign has shown impressive results, particularly in those countries that don’t shut up shop completely for the summer—the market is likely to move for a number of reasons.

Firstly is the back to school rush, which although not as noticeable in the Middle East as in other regions, is still likely to create a jump in sales. If the Dubai government can push its e4all campaign, which aims to provide cheap PCs, then the back to school business could really pick up. On the corporate side, a lot of companies reported a relatively busy summer.

Budgets that were put on hold because of war fears started to get spent in the summer, and with government departments arriving back from their long holidays, more funds are likely to be released soon. Add to that Gitex and Computer Shopper and the boost that this normally provides to the consumer segment, and we may be in for a very positive Q3.

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