PC shipments in Germany, Spain and the UK continued their descent in the first quarter of 2002, according to market researcher IDC.

The UK market is characterized by cautious corporate IT spending on the one hand, and growing demand for notebooks on the other.

Overall PC shipments (both desktop and notebook) in the UK fell four per cent to 1.68 million in the first quarter of 2002. Desktop shipments dropped 8.1 percent to 1.19 million, while notebooks jumped 10.3 per cent to 441,000. In the notebook sector, consumer shipments rose 46.2 per cent, while business shipments grew only 4.6 per cent, again reflecting overall cautious corporate IT spending.

The UK market “will remain tough in 2002,” said Rita Sfeir, IDC senior research analyst, who urged vendors to “find their niche.”

Germany and Spain The picture in the German and Spanish markets isn’t that different to the UK.

Germany, Europe’s largest PC market, continues to battle a recession that overcame the country at the end of the third quarter of 2001. Business and consumer confidence reached its lowest level in eight years– with desktop shipments in both sectors reporting double-digit decline.

In Spain, like Germany, the move by corporations to freeze spending has had a crippling effect on the industry. PC shipments in the first quarter of this year were down 8.1 per cent year-on-year, at 380,000 units. Although vendors see huge potential in the Spanish computer market because of the comparatively low PC penetration, they have seen numerous corporate IT projects either put on hold or abandoned, as a result of the economic slowdown, according to Angela Salmeron, a senior research analyst at IDC.

IDC clamed that the reason for the negative growth was a restraint on corporate spending linked to the economic slowdown. However, the firm saw signs of a slight recovery – possibly in the second half of this year. The market researcher noted that notebook shipments were up in all three markets.

Stefania Lorenz, senior research analyst at IDC, predicted: “By 2006, notebooks will represent almost one in two PCs shipped, and around 30 per cent of the overall installed base.” Lorenz attributed the growth to changes in working behaviour, with companies operating with more employees that are mobile. These people are increasingly blurring the lines between their work and private lives.