Fudging figures

Middle East and Africa (MEA) notebook shipments skyrocketed above the 600,000 mark in the second quarter of 2005 with a few major deals having a major impact on the vendor rankings.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  August 17, 2005

Middle East and Africa (MEA) notebook shipments skyrocketed above the 600,000 mark in the second quarter of 2005 with a few major deals having a major impact on the vendor rankings.

There was also channel controversy as the numbercrunchers at Canalys reported Acer’s MEA notebook shipment figure some 20,000 units lower than IDC and Gartner. Channel Middle East went digging to find out why the figures varied quite so sharply.

David Drummond, business unit manager at Acer for mobile products in MEA, said: “We have met at a very senior level with Canalys to discuss the results because these figures do not accurately reflect Acer’s numbers in MEA. From our discussions with Canalys, we believe the root of the discrepancy is one-tier sales that Acer makes to major retailers and resellers in the Middle East and Africa.”

“We work directly with Jarir Bookstore and Jumbo. Just between those two you have more than 20,000 units in the second quarter,” continued Drummond. “Ask Canalys if all these companies are on their list. Canalys is a UK-based company and does not have the reach of IDC or Gartner in this region. Canalys is fully entitled to stick by its numbers, but they are the wrong numbers.”

The Canalys figures have certainly hit a nerve with the team at Acer. The absence of the 20,000 mystery notebooks pushed Acer down to 4th on Canalys’ vendor rankings. HP picked up top spot for second quarter notebook shipments in MEA with unit volumes doubling year-on-year to 112,970. Toshiba zoomed into second place as it more than quadrupled its notebook sales to 94,710, compared to just 21,230 a year earlier.

Dell came in third, boosting volumes 87% year-on-year to 65,470 units with Acer languishing in fourth place with the hotly disputed figure of 44,920 units — a rise of just 34% year-on-year. Fujitsu Siemens rounded out the top five ranking with unit sales more than doubling to 33,590 according to Canalys.

Defending the data

All these figures — with the exception of the Acer one — are pretty much on a par with the numbers that have been released by IDC and Gartner for the MEA region. Now this begs a simple question: if Acer’s sales to its major one-tier partners in the MEA region were not counted by Canalys, how come other vendors did not face the same problem?

Think about it. Acer is by no means the only vendor that has a direct sales relationship with major retailers in the region. So why is there no discrepancy between the figures for HP, Dell, Toshiba and Fujitsu Siemens being pumped out by Canalys, IDC and Gartner?

If Canalys did not count Acer’s sales to some major one-tier partners, surely the sales that other vendors made to these very same companies would also be excluded? And if that happened, we would be looking at big discrepancies for every single vendor. It’s a bit of a puzzler really.

Put simply, Canalys is standing by its numbers for second quarter notebook shipments in MEA. While the calculator-toting analysts at Canalys would not speak specifically about the discrepancy, they did issue the following statement by e-mail:

“This comes down to methodology and we are confident that our figures are the best available. We publish estimates based on multiple feedback sources and cross check our figures against a variety of industry sources, including component vendors and channel partners. We can’t comment on the results of other research firms.”

So there you have it. Canalys says 44,920 for Acer notebooks in the second quarter in MEA. IDC and Gartner both have figures around the 68,000 mark. Acer says IDC and Gartner are right and Canalys is wrong. Canalys is standing by its numbers. Who would have thought that a few numbers could stir up such controversy?

New boss for Fujitsu Siemens

Anyway, let’s move on to nicer topics. It appears that Fujitsu Siemens protracted search for a regional manager is finally over. According to an insider at Fujitsu Siemens, Stephane Rejasse has been appointed as the new regional manager. Rejasse apparently used to work for a Fujitsu Siemens partner in Lebanon prior to taking on his new role.

The vacant position at Fujitsu Siemens has been a channel talking point for some time. Fujitsu Siemens had eyed up a number of candidates for the role including some senior executives from close rivals. One senior executive from HP came very close to accepting the role before deciding to stay where he was. A senior executive at Acer was also approached for the position but politely declined.

The vacancy at Fujitsu Siemens came up when Ahmed Khalil left the vendor just a few months after joining to return to his former employer, Toshiba. And Khalil appears to be doing a fantastic job as Toshiba notebook sales continue to soar skywards across the MEA region.

“We sold about 95,000 units in MEA in the second quarter,” said Khalil. “Toshiba has seen volumes more than double year-on-year in the UAE and almost treble in Saudi Arabia. We have outstripped the overall market growth rate.”

Toshiba is certainly firing on all cylinders at present, and talking to Khalil, you get the impression that there are plenty more notebook sales opportunities for the company to capitalise on.

“Of the 95,000, only about 1,200 of these went into East Africa so we know there is more room for growth. We have just appointed Lebanon’s CIS as a distribution partner covering Nigeria, Ghana and Libya,” he added.

Toshiba’s numbers have also been boosted by sales in Turkey through a government led programme to encourage notebook ownership in the education sector. Khalil reckons that this deal alone could lead to 80,000 Toshiba units being sold into Turkey during the second, third and fourth quarters of 2005 combined.

Dell drives on with Jarir

Winning specific high volume deals continues to play a major role in defining the vendor rankings every quarter. Dell’s strong showing is at least partly attributable to a one-off deal with Jarir Bookstore in Saudi Arabia for 10,000 units according to other A-brand vendors. This deal was actually enough to knock Acer off the notebook top spot in Saudi Arabia.

“According to IDC and Gartner, from a strong number one position in Saudi Arabia, which we have held for about four quarters, we were in the number two position in the second quarter,” admitted Drummond. “That is all down to the Dell deal with Jarir.”

When all is said and done, there will always be some variation in the numbers being pumped out by the major research houses. Some vendors do embellish their sales figures to a certain extent and bragging rights remain important. And as one vendor inflates a sales figure or shifts some units from one country to another to boost their position, the others are forced to follow suit.

Trawling through the second quarter figures has been a great deal of fun and it has highlighted one important fact above all others: the overall size of the MEA market continues to grow at a tremendous pace and vendor competition will only intensify as the pie gets bigger.

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