The notebook market grows ever more competitive as vendors aggressively pursue marketshare.

In its third-quarter European notebook price report, research firm IDC observes: "After a second quarter marked by sharp price cuts carried out by PC vendors to stimulate demand, price erosion continued throughout the third quarter."

European notebook prices have fallen on average seven per cent in comparison to the previous quarter, and 20 per cent in comparison with the year-ago quarter.

Apple became the world's ninth-biggest notebook seller in Q2 2003, IDC recently announced, seizing 4.1 per cent of the market. It took 3.8 per cent of second-quarter marketshare in the UK and 7.9 per cent in the UK education market.

"Despite their impact on revenue performance, vendors continue to use price cuts as a key weapon to stimulate demand across all segments," IDC says.


Confirming the tough battle being waged at the heart of the market, the report observes: "The retail channel clearly remained a major battlefield, with notebooks at the heart of it. Retailers across Europe have placed a major emphasis on portable products and competition between international and local vendors has been, as anticipated, without mercy and could well lead to growth for consumer notebook unit sales for the third quarter close to expectations at 50 per cent year-on-year."

IDC anticipates that the business notebook market could grow 29 per cent as well. It also predicts some recovery in the corporate market: "There is continued improvement as corporate rollouts gradually take place, although remaining constrained by slow economic conditions and cautious investment attitudes across the region."

IDC European Personal Computing group research director Karine Paoli said: "This third quarter has been another challenging one for PC vendors. With many countries still in recession and business renewal cycles continuing to
be delayed and postponed to 2004, vendors had no other choice than to remain very active on the promotions and marketing front to stimulate demand."

Price and marketing will continue to be the key weapons for manufacturers in this market, she observed: "With limited hope for a major economic recovery before the second half of 2004, pricing will remain a key volume-generation weapon in the fourth quarter and into 2004."

IDC research analyst Ian Gibbs warned: "Apple must be prepared to defend its established niche in this strong competitive environment."