At first sight, Gartner's latest report suggesting that PC sales are 15 per cent up on last year would appear to be out of kilter with the faltering economy. Look closer, however, and this is revealed as no three-pipe problem.

It is particularly noteworthy that Acer pipped HP and Dell to be the biggest PC seller in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Taiwan's finest makes cheap, fast computers and price-sensitive conditions suit it down to the ground. Just as Dell grew at the expense of IBM and Compaq in the early 1990s, so Acer, Asustek and others can expect a lift this time around.

Even more interesting, mini-notebooks priced under $500 were identified as a fast-growing category. Think of the Eee PC and Netbooks: these are highly suitable for an age that seeks optimum value and flexible working. For workers that need internet access, email and light editing capabilities and do not need top-end processing or visualisation capabilities they fit the bill very nicely.

This is bad news for premium-priced suppliers and component makers but PC prices are heading nowhere but south and buyers will cry all the way to the bank.

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CIO News View: Eee but the PC is changing