Gartner’s latest figures for PC sales show that desktop sales are plummeting as the market shifts towards what it calls mobile computers such as laptops and, of course, tablets.
As a whole PC shipments across Western Europe totalled 13.6 million for the second quarter of 2012, a 2.4% decline on the same period a year ago.
But when we dive down into those figures, we see the fall is mostly from the desktop space, where year on year sales fell 12.8%. Mobile sales, such as laptops and netbooks (Gartner does not include tablets in its mobile computer definition) rose 4%.
It cloud be that buyers are waiting for Windows 8 to arrive before purchasing a new PC, but it is also clear that there is a shift to tablet computing. For example, Apple, the clear leader in the field, sold 17 million iPads, giving it a massive 68% of the market.
IDC also put out figures that revealed that 25 million tablets were sold during the quarter, up from 18.7 million the quarter before (an increase of 33.6%), and up 66% on the 15 million sold during the same quarter the previous year.
Businesses in Western Europe are certainly holding off on a hardware refresh, with sales in that section dropping 5.3%. The consumer market was flat, Gartner said.
The big winner in Western Europe PC sales was Asus, who saw shipments climb 42.8% to give it a market share of just under 11%, the third biggest. HP still dominates the area with 20% market share, meaning it held on to the top spot despite a 13% fall in shipments. Acer sits between HP and Asus, with Dell and Lenovo making up the top five.
"Consumer spending on PCs has been stalled by the ongoing economic uncertainty. If demand, especially from consumers, remains weak there might be some old stock left in the channels ahead of the Windows 8 launch in October. This could lead to significant price cuts in September, and challenges may arise in selling new products into the channel in the third quarter of 2012," said Meike Escherich, principal analyst at Gartner.
In the UK a total of 2.5 million PCs were shipped, a fall of 7.6% from this time last year.
Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner said it was a bleak time for the PC market here. "The UK PC market remained very weak in the second quarter of 2012. It was depressed across the board, with both the consumer and professional sectors exhibiting decline," he said.
"The real worry for the UK PC market is whether it will ever return to solid growth," he went on. "Windows 8 and Ultrabooks now look even more important. However, messages emerging from the PC supply chain remain inconsistent and largely uninspiring. This has resulted in the PC channel holding back on new shipment orders until the fourth quarter of 2012."
What is interesting for the UK market is that Apple has crept into the top five of PC suppliers. It saw a 10% growth in shipments, giving it 7.4% of the UK market. HP is still the top supplier here, with 18.5% of the market, despite seeing shipments drop by 11.7%. Dell is holding on to second spot despite seeing a 23.2% fall in shipments. Acer, in third place, saw a 14% decline in shipments.
Only Apple in fifth and Toshiba in fourth saw shipments. In fact Toshiba bucked the trend by registering a huge surge in shipments. They climbed from 157 million in Q2 2011 to 238 million this year, an increase of 51.6%.
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