Apple was the number nine PC vendor in 1999 in the EMEA market (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), according to figures from IDC.

The figures show a unit growth of 24.8 per cent over the previous year, with market share rising from 2.4 per cent in 1998 to 2.6 per cent. Apple shipped 629,000 units in 1998, and 863,000 in 1999, according to IDC.

The top five PC vendors were Compaq, Fujitsu Siemens, Dell, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard.

IDC also released its forecast for PC sales in the year 2000, predicting that despite a slow start in the first quarter, shipments will grow 16.4 per cent, and more than 38.8 million PCs will be shipped in the EMEA region.

The Internet will drive consumer sales, and Windows 2000 will stimulate business renewals in the second half of the year, said IDC. The market will remain constrained, however, by fierce competition and sharp price decreases.

"The intense competition in the consumer market and the increasing share of the new Internet channel will contribute to increase the pressure on margins," said Karine Paoli, EMEA PC tracker program manager for IDC. "The challenge for PC vendors is more than ever to improve their business model, increase efficiencies and create outside-the-box revenues in order to meet these new market requirements."

Consumer markets will remain particularly strong in France, Germany and the UK, where aggressive pricing in the retail channel, brand competition, and increased Internet access demand will stimulate purchases and renewals. Notebook sales, which took off in the fourth quarter of 1999, will continue to record levels of growth in 2000, said IDC.