The PC market's growth across Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell to low single digits in the fourth quarter of 2008, following several quarters of double digit growth, preliminary data released by IDC EMEA suggests.

With unit growth of 1.8% year on year, Western Europe is said to have "held well", though fell short of expectations at 11.9%.

IDC says this was driven by demand for portables and in particular for "new mini-notebooks" which saw "strong momentum" in the Christmas season.

"As expected, the Christmas season saw continued uptake of mini-notebooks driven by strong vendor push, with several manufacturers launching new products from October onwards, stimulating fierce competition for retail shelf space", said Eszter Morvay, senior research analyst for IDC.

"However, telco operators also drove strong momentum, with both first- and second-tier players setting up new partnerships and offering heavily subsidized mini-notebooks. And while standard portable sales slowed down, mini-notebooks will continue to drive market expansion and multi-equipment trends in Europe in 2009".

In terms of company-specific stats, IDC says HP kept its position as market leader, Acer saw "modest growth", Dell was flat, Asus maintained strong growth and Toshiba "recorded a very strong quarter".