European Computer Companies?

So I am reading this story about Apple Computer’s share of the education market and the numbers really surprised me:

“Apple’s education market share in western Europe is now 15.2 per cent…Dell now holds 14.7 per cent of the education market in western Europe. In third place is HP with 14.2 per cent followed by Acer with 9.5 per cent, and Fujitsu with 7.8 per cent. The remaining “other” PC vendors hold 38.6 per cent”

None of the companies listed as having over 60% of the European education market are actually European companies. What gives? Are there any major Europe-based hardware manufactures? When your average European sits down to surf do they do so in front of box made by an American or Asian company?

I never really thought about this before. It would say a lot about the current business climate in Europe if there is no European equivalent of Dell. Perhaps some of the Chicago boyz across the pond can clue me in.

9 thoughts on “European Computer Companies?”

  1. Europe did not do too hot at the computer or internet economy. Dell, Microsoft, and Apple are all relatively young American companies that have done relatively very well. Michael Dell, Gates and Steve Jobs are all undergrad dropouts.

    Amazon is another U.S. success story. Bezos has a degree, yet he started with only several hundred thousand dollars and a dream. Then there is Yahoo and Google. I do not see equivalents in Europe.

    Europeans complain about Americans with words, but actions show they like American products.

    In defense of Europe, Europeans have done relatively well at consumer products (Nestle, Danone).

  2. “…by the end of the decade there will be no more american automobile companies.” Only if Bush and Congress decide to “protect” them. If they are forced to go through the hard discipline of creative destruction, then viable American automobile companies could emerge from the husks of the existing Ford and GM. The sooner this happens, the better.

  3. This really hasn’t ever occurred to me as a ‘bad thing’. Lack of OS, app software or semi-conductor industry, sure, but box building? Margins are poor so let the Taiwanese do it seemed the overriding thinking in the nineties.

    Speaking from a purely British perspective (“average euro-spit-pean” is fightin’ talk)… Apple’s share was built after they bought out Acorn’s education business on the cheap, no-one seemed to care since the ARM spin-off was so lucrative. 15.2% may seem impressive but Acorn had a monopoly of the UK market in the eighties. The two companies had co-operated for a while, anyone remember the Newton? Fujitsu’s share will have been helped because they bought out ICL. All the other major UK manufacturers sold out to foreigners, went bust through incompetence or diversified (Amstrad who also bought out Sinclair now make satellite settop boxes and PVRs). No major hardware manufacturers in the UK for a good ten years.

  4. cja,

    Sinclare, that brings back memories. When I was in high school my best friend saved up for a Sinclare 80 with 4k of memory! To this day he writes compact code like you wouldn’t believe.

    My hardware companies like Dell are more computer assemblers than manufactures per se. Software, design, marketing and distribution is done in the US but most of the actual manufacturing is done in Asia. I was surprised that a similar arraignment hasn’t occurred in Europe. I had always assumed that European companies provided most of the hardware in Europe using the Dell model but it appears I was wrong.

    I wonder what it is about the European business climate that prevented or prevents such a business from taking off?

  5. Robert Swartz,

    And by the end of the decade there will be no more american automobile companies.

    One could argue that the auto-motive companies are the ones that most closely follow the European model. They are large and one time almost nationalistic with strong unions and big pension/health care liabilities.

    Perhaps US automobile manufactures and European computer manufactures suffer from the same faults.

  6. I work for a Silicon Valley based software company that sells to the semiconductor industry. A friend of mine is at a remote office in TX. Conceivably his job could be done from anywhere.

    He is young, single and just cashed in on some real estate, so he talked to his upper management about transferring to one of the european offices for a couple of years, sort of an extended vacation.

    He wanted to go to France, Germany, Italy or Ireland, in that order. The only place they’d let him go is Ireland.

  7. I think there’s a couple of things going on. One is that Europe has a relatively poor climate for business formation: heavy taxes and regulation, limited capital markets as compared to the USA, burdensome labor rules, and less-entrepreneurial cultures.

    The other thing is comparative advantage. For various reasons some regions and countries do better at producing particular products than do others. The USA has long been a leader in computers and software, commercial aircraft, high-end microprocessors and so forth. The USA is not a leader in producing such things as cameras, hemp, high-end cheeses and bicycle parts. The locus of comparative advantage for a given industry may change with technological and productivity advances, which may explain part of the decline of the US automobile industry and part of the rise of the US wine industry. The fact that Europe lacks a competitive computer industry or the USA lacks a competitive bicycle-parts industry is not necessarily a bad thing. Regions, like people, specialize.

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