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Days of soaring growth over for MEA PC market

MEA PC sales down 6% year-on-year in first quarter, growth flat from final quarter of 2008

Sales of PCs in the Middle East and Africa remained flat sequentially and showed a decline year-on-year during the first quarter, leaving the market facing up to the reality that the days of solid double-digit growth are over for now.

A total of 3.5 million units were sold into the channel between January and March — the same as the fourth quarter of 2008, but 6% less than a year ago, according to preliminary figures provided by IDC.

The research house said the Middle East and Africa — which includes sales taken from Turkey and South Africa — fared better than the emerging Central and Eastern European markets, largely as a result of healthy demand for mobile PCs.

On a country level, shipments of desktops and notebooks in Saudi Arabia increased 10% year-on-year during the first quarter, but the UAE contracted 6% over the same period as the market battled to stave off the impact of the global financial crisis.

“The MEA region was negatively affected by a 13% decline in desktops, but notebooks saw 2% growth year-on-year driven by the stronger uptake on mini-notebooks,” explained Stefania Lorenz, research director CEMA systems at IDC.

“That is actually very small because we had been used to much stronger growth until the fourth quarter. In 2009 we expect the market to be quite flat or even show a slight negative. This will be the first time we have ever seen such a dramatic slowdown in the region,” she added.

IDC said that HP continues to maintain its lead at the top of the MEA PC charts, with 21% of the market. Its nearest rival is now Acer, which overtook Dell during the quarter to claim 11% share.

Toshiba occupies the fourth position, followed by LG, Fujitsu Siemens (now Fujitsu Technology Solutions) and Turkish whitebox assembler Casper.

“The Middle East actually did better than we expected as we had foreseen the region to suffer more, but it didn’t happen,” said Lorenz. “I think it was because of a big push in the mini-notebook sector, which probably helped to post this growth.”

Meanwhile, IDC revealed that first quarter PC shipments for the entire EMEA region slumped 10% year-on-year to 21.5 million units as sales in Central and Eastern Europe crashed 41%.

Four of the top five players — HP, Acer, Toshiba and Asus — performed better than the market average, but Dell suffered a 25% slide in volumes compared with the same period a year ago.