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May 10, 2012

Tablets take another bite out of PC market: Gartner

Western Europe PC sales dip 3% but UK market is buoyant, with HP still top dog

By Steve Evans

iPads are eating into PC sales

PC shipments in Western Europe took a hit during the first quarter of 2012 as the Eurozone economic crisis worsened and consumers shifted their focus to tablets.

Unites for the quarter totalled 15.5 million, a 3.1% decline on the same quarter a year ago, said Gartner.

The perilous economic situation in Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain meant PC sales there were particularly bad. Gartner also said buyers were shunning PCs in favour of smartphones and tablets, such as Apple’s iPad.

Figures in the UK were more impressive however, with unit sales topping 3 million, a 2.4 per cent compared with the equivalent period in 2011. "After a decline of 16 per cent in 2011, the UK PC market showed stability in terms of shipment volume," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "Shipments of professional PCs grew 3.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, but it remains to be seen if this is a sign of real demand or just inventory refreshment."

HP still dominates the UK market, with a 21.4% share of PC sales here, followed by Dell way back on 13%. Dell performed poorly during the quarter with shipments dropping by 7.7%. Lenovo was the biggest winner, with a 59.5% increase in sales.

Atwal said the eagerly-awaited arrival of new products should give the market another kick. "PC vendors are all waiting for Ultrabooks and Windows 8-based PCs to enter the market, and the way they can differentiate themselves from their competitors will again come down to price, unless there is innovation in form factors," he said.

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Looking at European sales figures in general, HP is again the top dog. A modest increase in sales of 3.2% gives it a market share of 22.9%, well ahead of Acer on 14.6%. Gartner said major management changes at a country level contributed to Acer’s woeful quarter, which saw shipments dip 20.1% compared to the previous year.

Lenovo, which purchased IBM’s PC business back in 2004, again performed well with a 34.6% increased in shipments. Gartner says this is due to the expansion of its consumer and business presence as well as an aggressive pricing strategy.

"Although we saw moderate growth in professional PC shipments, the overall PC market in Western Europe showed a decline," said Meike Escherich, principal analyst at Gartner. "Consumers continued to focus their spending on alternative computing devices like smartphones and media tablets."

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