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    ASUS TAKES THE LEAD ON RUSSIAN LAPTOP MARKET

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    MOSCOW, March 1. (RIA Novosti)-Last year saw a change of leader on the Russian laptop market. According to research conducted by Gartner Group and IDC, Russia's Rover Computer gave way to Taiwan's Asus, Vedomosti reports.

    In the past seven to eight years, Rover was always at least 5% ahead of the competition, with 30% of the market. However, Sergei Shunyayev, Rover Computer's president, says that demand for laptops in Russia grew by 50% last year, which galvanized both foreign and Russian brands.

    Mr. Shunyayev does not agree with the analysts that his company has lost its leading position and says the 2004 gap between Rover and all others was just a bit smaller than before. This year will show who is the top dog on the Russian laptop market, he says.

    IDC analyst Andrei Verkhovod says sales of Asus, Rover, and iRU laptops were running "neck and neck" last year, but competition will soon intensify with the emergence of aggressive newcomers such as Korea's Samsung and LG, and Taiwan's Acer.

    Alexei Voronkov, a marketing manager with Asustek Computer's Moscow office, says sales of Asus laptop computers in Russia were up 300% last year.

    Roman Mosin, an Acer PR manager, also says his company is happy about its performance on the Russian market, with its share growing six-fold and sales by 522% last year.

    The head of the PR service at iRU, Yelena Medvedeva, says laptops became ordinary consumer goods last year rather than a specialist piece of equipment for IT experts. She says iRU increased sales by 240%.

    IDC reports 240,000 laptops were sold in the fourth quarter of 2004 alone.

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