Worldwide sales of personal computers were expected to rise by 12.2% in the fourth quarter of 1998 compared with the same period the year before, driven in particular by the buoyancy of the Western European market, according to a survey published in December by International Data Corporation. IDC also attributes the performance to the strength of the US market and renewed growth, albeit on a very small scale, in the Pacific Asia region and Japan.

The revival of the laptop computer segment of the computer market and the rapid growth of the number of Internet users has also helped to achieve this result. Total sales in 1998 are put at 89.2 million units, up 11.1% on 1997, and sales for 1999 are forecast to total 100.6 million units (+12.8%). In Western Europe; sales in the fourth quarter should be 15.6% on the same period in 1997, fuelled by increased confidence in the Germany economy, a market of major importance for this sector, says IDC.

The rapidly expanding small computer segment and the opening up of distribution networks to new retailers, such as supermarkets in the United Kingdom, seem to be the reason for the fine performance, according to the survey, which also cites international marketing campaigns. In the United States, the 12.2% rate of growth expected in the fourth...

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