The PC market in the Middle East has tripled in the last five years, even though fixed broadband network access has been slow to grow, according to Intel, the chip manufacturer. Intel says it sees broadband network penetration growing rapidly to a relatively under-served region over the next few years. Although PC penetration per capita is low compared to other developed markets at about 20%, the number of computers leaving the shelves will boom in relation to the ability of businesses and consumers to link them up over broadband. In fact, Intel predicts that broadband penetration will triple over the next four or five years, and that could be for several reasons.
Firstly, the amount of Arabic content available online is increasing, with more Arabic domain names available. Secondly, consumer lifestyles now demand broadband in order to conduct e-commerce, bank online, view streamed TV channels and listen to music, to name but a few applications. In the business world, greater availability of broadband, and more competition for whoever provides it, should bring prices down and grow the number of product on the market. It might also see more businesses conducting 'virtual consolidation,' with high bandwidth pipes connecting various locations and making it seem to staff as if they're all working in the same place.
By 2011, there will be about 57 million broadband services subscribers in MEA, with just over 70% of them accessing high speed data applications. This growth will be at least as important to business users as more and more staff members work on the fly and access mobile broadband using embedded laptop cards. Also, the growth of 'MiFi'services may somewhat negate the need for fixed broadband links for workers who simply want to boot their laptop wherever they are and work using email or Web access.