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Few European vendors coming to Comdex

November 13, 1998
Web posted at: 2:04 PM ET

by Mary Lisbeth D'Amico

(IDG) -- Show-goers looking for European computer vendors exhibiting at next week's Comdex/Fall '98 trade show will find such creatures are few and far between. Many European computer firms will be going to Las Vegas, but their aim is merely to keep up with the latest industry developments rather than to show off their own products.

Most European systems vendors -- not a large club to begin with -- are conserving their energy for Europe's largest information technology trade show, CeBit, in Hannover, Germany, next March, several companies told the IDG News Service. These vendors said Comdex is mainly a U.S. show, one that holds little interest for most of their customers.

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Their absence also points up again that Europe lacks any truly global players in the computer hardware industry, in the retail end as well as in the enterprise server market. Europe's main success stories -- Sweden's L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. and Finland's Nokia Corp. -- manufacture communications devices rather than computers.

Siemens AG, Europe's largest computer vendor, doesn't have a big presence outside of Europe, according to Chris Jones, PC analyst with Dataquest. Recognizing this, Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG -- now part of Siemens -- sought to sell its PC unit to Acer Inc. earlier this year. Although the deal fell through, Siemens continues to look for other potential partners.

U.S. vendors also now dominate Europe's own computer markets. In the third quarter of this year, Compaq Computer Corp., IBM and Dell Computer Corp. occupied the top three slots in Europe's PC market, with Siemens coming in fourth, according to Dataquest.

"The markets in Europe are beginning to mirror the U.S. market, with the same players at the top," Jones said. European vendors cannot compete with the economies of scale achieved by large U.S. vendors, which sell millions of PCs annually, he said. These computer giants also have better acceptance from channel partners and more marketing muscle to spend on direct sales, Jones added.

Compaq is even muscling in on the local retail market in Germany. It recently announced a deal with German distributor Schaeffer IT-Logistics GmbH to produce low-cost PCs branded with the Compaq name.

The Swedish Pavilion at Comdex will provide at least one small European vendor with a venue to show off its flat-panel monitors. Sweden-based MultiQ Products AB will be showing off its line of monitors, which can be connected to any IBM-compatible PC or Apple Computer Inc. Macintosh, and will also show its flat-panel computer with a built-in 233 MHz Pentium MMX PC, according to a company statement. The company unveiled its flat-panel computer, not much bigger than a laptop, at this year's CeBit.

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