ECONOMY

Greek IT sales below year projections

The value of Greek information technology sales in 2003 grew by a disappointing 6 percent to 226.8 million euros, according initial estimates in a report by business consultant firm Strategic International / K. Kataras. «Software and services – particularly the Greek information technology firms – were more affected, while the worst may be yet to come, as the projection for 2004 is for a 2.5 percent rise,» said Strategic International, whose analysts had forecast a double-digit rise for 2003. «A substantial upgrade of the market, with a turn to ‘smart’ software and services of high added value never materialized; maintained good performance in personal computer sales was the only reason why the total size of the Greek information technology market did not shrink for the first time in almost 20 years.» According to Strategic, the main factors accounting for disappointing performance were the particularly low absorption rate of European Union investment subsidies under the Third Community Support Framework, «the irresponsibility of the large Greek IT firms, particularly in relation to their stock market activities, which led to their economic exhaustion and the shifting of an important market share to the more efficient global players,» and the «negative convergence» with the average growth rate of the IT market in the rest of Europe.» The failure of Greek firms to innovate has shifted consumer preferences to giants such as IBM, HP and Oracle, the report noted. According to the initial estimates, the value of PC systems sold rose 13 percent in 2003; sales of peripherals rose only marginally, helped by the ascending trend toward digital photography. The market segment of professional and support services shrank by more than 12 percent, accentuating the serious problems many firms are facing. «2005 is expected to be the first year in which the total production of Greek computers will be less than 50 percent of total sales,» said the report.