The European thin client market grew strongly in 2006, with analyst firm IDC predicting continued growth.

According to the recent IDC study, ‘Strong Finish to the Year,’ the thin client market rallied in the middle of the year to finish 2006 with healthy 17% growth compared with 2005. It said nearly 1.2 million units were shipped in 2006 with the UK and Germany representing the largest opportunity in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

The study found HP led the European market in the fourth quarter of last year, with Wyse coming in a close second. However the leading vendors were reversed for the full year, where Wyse continued to lead with 27% share, followed by HP with 25% share. It also said Neoware retained third position but lost market share compared to its performance in 2005.

Despite such dominance, smaller suppliers grew considerably, reflecting their flexibility, investment plans, and ability to customise products to meet needs, said the report. And, as suppliers continue to develop their systems management offerings, it predicts an increased focus on software to improve management and security for the next five years.

"While dedicated thin client hardware is still currently a niche product the investments in this market by both large and small suppliers, combined with a need for a product to address client security and manageability requirements, help to drive growth in this market," said Chris Ingle, consulting and research director, IDC EMEA Systems Group.

“IT directors are faced with an ever increasing list of approaches to their client computing requirements and need to work with their suppliers and consultants to make sense of these offers.”