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Africa, Middle East PC market shrinks by 1%

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Political unrest, an economic slowdown, weak Windows 8 demand and the popularity of tablets have resulted in the African and Middle East PC market having shrunk by 1% in 2012.

This is according to International Data Corporation (IDC) research that says total PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) fell by -10.7% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

IDC says fourth quarter results of 2012 have brought total EMEA PC sales to 105.6 million units for the full year of 2012, declining by -1.6% as compared with 2011. Portable PC shipments, meanwhile, remained almost flat, shrinking by -0.8% in 2012 for EMEA, while desktop sales fell -2.9%, says IDC.

Europe has been the main factor in pulling down EMEA PC sales, with countries such as Spain and Greece experiencing recessions that have held back consumer and public spending.

IDC goes on to say that PC sales in Western Europe “remained constrained by continued weakness in consumer demand during the Christmas season and a disappointing market lift provided by Windows 8 and new products”.

This in turn reportedly lead to an overall decline in Western Europe by -12.5% in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with the same period in 2011.

Meanwhile, IDC adds that Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) market remained constrained as well and was directly impacted by an inventory issue in Russia, which brought the region to a -13.6% decline in PC sales.

But the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region fared better with a decline of just 0.6%. Tablet devices have also been a key factor in disrupting the PC market, says IDC.

"The PC market in the Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMA) region reported an overall decline of -8% year on year in Q4 2012. Both regions witnessed weakness in the markets due to inventory and economic slowdown as well as the continual political unrest in the Middle East and Africa,” said Stefania Lorenz, research director IDC CEMA.

“The Middle East and Africa is slightly in a better position with -1% year-on-year decline. Demand in the notebook segment has been slow in MEA due to the popularity of tablets in the region. In addition, the newly launched Microsoft Windows 8 was not able to lift demand across the regions," Lorenz added.

Experts have echoed similar sentiments that the PC market EMEA is struggling.

“Traditional PC (sales) as we know it are flat. We don’t see big growth coming out of that,” said Graham Braum, Lenovo’s general manager for Africa, at a press briefing in Johannesburg last month.

“But we see huge growth coming out of the hybrid, convertible, smartphone, tablet environment from 2013 and moving forward,” Braum added.

Analyst, Sadiq Malik, a lead strategy consultant for Broadband Gurus Network, has told ITWeb Africa that strong demand for mobile phones in Africa could also be resulting in weaker demand for laptops and desktops on the continent.

“Most Africans have started to connect to the internet via a smartphone rather than a laptop or desktop,” Malik told ITWeb Africa last month.

“Its is more convenient and less expensive since mobile operators subsidies terminals.In addition mobile cloud computing is a massive growth opportunity in Africa,” added Malik.

Top five EMEA PC vendors, according to IDC

1. Hewlett Packard (HP): Regarding top performing PC sellers in the EMEA region, IDC lists HP as keeping its number one spot despite stiff competition from Chinese vendor Lenovo.

“HP consolidated its leadership in EMEA, and regained significant share in particular in the Middle East,” says IDC.

“Performance was softer in Western Europe and CEE, in line with slow market conditions and limited Windows 8 market lift, but HP maintained a strong execution focus and rolled out an extended product portfolio which enabled the vendor to take advantage of the gradual acceleration in demand towards the end of the quarter,” adds the research firm.

2. Lenovo: China headquartered Lenovo, meanwhile, recorded strong growth of 11.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012, cementing its 2nd place in the overall EMEA ranking.

“The vendor continued to post robust growth across all sub-regions, driven by consumer expansion in key geographies, while maintaining a strong focus in the commercial market,” says IDC regarding Lenovo.

“Consistent strategy and execution is paying off, while new product introductions and innovation are also key drivers behind Lenovo’s success and expansion across EMEA,” added the research firm.

3. Acer: Taiwanese manufacturer Acer, though, has slipped to 3rd place, as it was affected by weak consumer demand.

4. Asus: This Taiwanese firm, meanwhile, maintained its 4th place despite a decline in shipments, because of a fall in portable PC sales and netbook volume contraction.

5. Dell: The US vendor kept 5th position in the overall ranking, recording a weak quarter, directly impacted by decelerating corporate renewals and constrained public spending and overall cautious business investment.

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