PC market growth stutters again

Weak consumer demand and a cautious enterprise market contract third-quarter growth, according to IDC.

Slow graph

The downward slide of the PC market continues, contracting by 3.8 per cent in the third quarter (Q3) according to IDC.

The analyst figures for PC desktop and laptop shipments in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) released today show growth in the previous quarter driven by demand in emerging markets of Central and Eastern EMEA also slowed alongside mature markets in Western Europe.

Western European PC shipments continued to contract for the fourth consecutive quarter, declining by 10.2 per cent, driven primarily by sustained weakness in consumer demand and cautious enterprise investment, IDC said.

Most channel players remained cautious with taking new orders.

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Affected by declining disposable consumer income on the one hand, the weaker shipment volumes also dropped off due to competition from media tablets and smartphones for that income when renewing home computing devices.

"In line with expectations, the Western European consumer PC market declined 20.6 per cent in Q3'11 from a sell-in standpoint, as most channel players remained cautious with taking new orders," said Eszter Morvay, IDC EMEA personal computing research manager.

She added though that sell-out continued to improve moderately, indicating a sustained focus on inventory depletion across several countries, helped by the fact that the Western European commercial segment fared better in Q3, with an increase of 3.7 per cent.

The analyst attributed the modest commercial growth to enterprise PC renewals, which has also pushed demand in the segment for the past six quarters. Projects already in plan, spending before any budget freezes and the traditional annual refresh window in education drove demand.

But the figures also revealed slowing demand in the small-to-midsized business (SMB) sector due to slowing revenue streams and limited access to credit, while the public sector is being affected by significant budget cuts.

Losses have been felt most keenly in the southern European region, with Spain and Italy contracting 37 and 31 per cent respectively. The UK suffered a 10.9 per cent drop, reflecting both weak consumer demand for PCs but also sustained caution in business IT investments.

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From a vendor perspective, HP maintained its lead and further consolidated its EMEA market share despite, as the analyst pointed out, the recent turmoil around the future of HP PSG. Acer retained its second position, despite significant year-on-year losses of 42 per cent. And ASUS moved to third place.

Dell slipped to fourth place in the overall EMEA ranking, with negative growth of 2.1 per cent. This also saw its market share contract for fourth consecutive quarter due to a sharp drop in consumer sales. Dell still held its own in the commercial segment, despite enterprise and SMB competition from HP and Lenovo.

Lenovo maintained fifth place, with 31.8 per cent growth compared to the same quarter of last year, while the rest of the market claimed a 38.9 per cent share overall.

Of these other top-ten vendors, IDC highlighted a return to positive growth for Toshiba, as well as continued progress by Samsung, Apple, Sony and, in particular, Fujitsu.

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