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November 8, 2012

PC shipments continue to dive across Europe

Gartner suggests not even Windows 8 will lift flagging sales

By Steve Evans

PC shipments in Western Europe continued to collapse during the third quarter of 2012, falling 15.4% to 13.6 million units.

Gartner once again suggested people were shifting away from PCs towards tablets, which it does not count in its sales figures. It also said PC vendors may struggle to win users back even with the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system.

Across Western Europe only Chinese firm Lenovo saw shipments increase, registering 1.265 million shipments this quarter compared to 1.174 million a year ago.

HP saw its shipments fall 22.2%, perhaps a sign that confidence in the company has not fully returned after its brief plan to get rid of its PC business. Despite this it retained top spot in terms of market share, with 19.3%. Acer, with 14.1%, and Asus, on 9.8%, claimed second and third place respectively.

Lenovo’s market share increased from 7.3% a year ago to 9.3% this time, meaning the company jumped ahead of Dell into fourth spot.

Meike Escherich, principal analyst at Gartner, said the industry has a long struggle ahead to regain former glories.

"The PC market will eventually return to growth, but the growth rate will not be at the level it was a few years ago. The real long-term challenges for the PC industry and PC vendors are to show growth and bring out products that can compete with the compelling new mobile devices coming on to the market," she said.

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Figures for the UK also made for depressing reading, with 3 million unit shipments representing a 7.2% drop on the year ago quarter.

The depression was felt across both consumer (down 8%) and business (down 6%) sales. Sales of desktop PC fell 13% while mobile PCs, such as laptops, netbooks and Ultrabooks, fell 3%. Gartner said the fall in mobile sales was surprising and greater than expected.

Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, said the release of Windows 8, which is aimed at mobile devices as well as desktops, will not give the industry the sales boost it so badly needs.

"The PC market has not only lost its lustre but is now on an ever-declining trend. The challenge to get users to buy the next generation of PCs with Windows 8 is huge," he said. "There is no doubt that the recent launch of Windows 8 has had an impact on inventory levels. However, the question is whether the vendors can position and price the products correctly during the next quarter."

Apple retained its position in the UK’s top five after sneaking in during the last quarter. In fact, of the top five vendors only Apple and Toshiba managed to increase shipments during the quarter.

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