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Gulf PC market shrugs off growing pains

Economic growth set to fuel expansion of PC market in the Gulf States, IDC predicts.

Incessant demand for mobile computing and the ongoing economic development of the region are set to ensure that the Gulf PC market continues to enjoy healthy double-digit growth for the next five years at least.

While total market growth for desktops, notebooks and industry standard servers is poised to tail off from the dizzy heights enjoyed in recent years, it will still accelerate at an average rate of more than 16% a year between now and 2011, according to estimates from analyst firm IDC.

"Continued economic growth will fuel expansion in the Gulf States PC market in the coming few years," predicted Omar Shihab, research manager at IDC's Middle East and Africa office. "Uptake of notebook PCs, the rollout of numerous IT infrastructure projects, and PC renewal and upgrade cycles in the corporate and government sectors will also play a role."

News that the PC sector can look forward to robust growth in the next few years follows the release this week of 2006 market data. IDC claims the GCC region registered a 34% year-on-year rise in volume to 2.2 million shipments last year, sending the value of the market soaring 32% to US$2.4 billion.

Strong demand for laptops, coupled with new infrastructure deployments in key verticals such as government, oil and gas, banking, insurance and telecommunications, played a major role in the market's expansion, along with a ramp-up in shipments among small businesses.

A 61% rise in notebook sales during 2006 made mobile PCs the most popular form factor among computer buyers in the Gulf. In contrast, desktop sales climbed less than 10% and saw their share of the market wane to just over 40%.

International heavyweights HP, Acer and Dell accounted for almost two thirds of total PC sales last year, indicating the growing influence that non-indigenous brands have on the market. The majority of shipments (81%) stemmed from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, while Kuwait maintained its position as the third largest PC market in the region.

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