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Euro notebook PC sales boom

Will outship desktops any month now

European notebook sales jumped almost 16 per cent year on year in January, UK-based market watcher Context has reported, pushing sales to within a gnat's todger of outselling desktop PCs.

Only one of Europe's eight biggest economies saw notebook shipments fall in January - sales dipped a single percentage point in Germany. Most of the remaining seven nations saw double-digit growth, with France, Spain and Sweden, in particular, showing big year-on-year gains.

Shipments were up 40.5 per cent in France, 33.2 per cent in Spain and 32.6 per cent in Sweden. In the UK, shipments grew just over seven per cent, year-on-year, Context told The Register.

Context tracks shipments through the reseller channel, so its figures effectively ignore any contribution made by Dell and other direct-only vendors.

That contribution may be enough to lift notebook sales beyond desktop shipments. As they stand, Context's numbers for January put notebook sales across Europe's eight largest economies just behind those of desktop PCs, but the market watcher said it expects the two form-factors' respective sales positions to swap round during the coming year, "if current trends continue".

The key trend is a half percentage-point increase in share for notebooks each month. In January, notebooks accounted for 49.2 per cent of PCs shipped via resellers in Europe, Context said, up from 42.5 per cent in January 2004.

Italy and Germany lead the way, with notebook shipment shares of 62.5 per cent and 53.1 per cent, respectively. That undoubtedly explains the relatively low notebook shipment growth seen in those territories in January.

France and Sweden, by contrast, both have high desktop:notebook shipment ratios, so it's no wonder, perhaps, that they also showed big notebook shipment increases in January. Both countries have simply been slower in the past to follow the trend favouring the notebook form-factor. Now they're catching up. In France and Sweden, desktops took 58.4 per cent and 63 per cent, respectively, of PC shipments through resellers during January.

The UK is a little less behind the curve. Notebook shipments fell just behind those of desktops, taking 44.2 per cent of overall PC shipments in January, Context said.

Market researcher Gartner last month said worldwide notebook shipments would surge 17 per cent in 2005, well above its anticipated overall PC shipments growth rate of six per cent.

Separately, Context said handheld PC shipments rose five per cent year on year during January in Europe's five biggest economies. The growth was seen mainly in the consumer space, with January 2005's sales exceeding January 2004's total by 25 per cent in the retail channel, while sales through business-oriented indirect channels were down 12 per cent compared to January 2004. ®

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