Netbook shipments in Western Europe halved in this year's second quarter, with problems at the market-leading Acer contributing to a major market slump, according to Gartner's provisional estimates. The industry research company reckons that, in this geographical area, PC shipments fell by 18.9 percent to 12.7 million units compared with the same period in 2010, while UK shipments fell by 15.0 percent to 2.5 million units.
Acer's inventory problems had an impact on shipments, rather than actual sales, so the situation may look worse than it is. But it's definitely not good. Even Apple only managed to increase its shipments by 0.5 percent.
Gartner reports that "the mobile PC market was particularly hit hard with a 20.4 percent decline, as mini-notebook [ie netbook] shipments decreased 53 percent". However, shipments of desktop PCs also fell by 15.4 percent year-on-year, hurting HP and, in particular, Dell. Gartner principal analyst Meike Escherich said in a statement:
"The much anticipated uptake in the professional segment, in the wake of migration to Windows 7, was subdued by the negative economic outlook. PC shipments in the professional segment declined 9 percent in the second quarter of 2011. The biggest decline continued to come from the consumer segment which decreased 27 percent year-on-year."
In Western Europe, HP regained the top spot as its shipments slipped by 6.1 percent to 3.2 million units, while Acer dropped to second with shipments falling by 44.6 percent to 2.0 million units. The rest of the Top 5 comprised Dell (1.4m units, -12.7 percent), Asus (1.0m units, -22.9 percent) and Apple (0.9m units, +0.5 percent). Apple's market share increased from 5.6 percent to 7.0 percent.
UK: PC Shipments Fell Further Due to Acer’s Steep Decline
In the UK, Samsung was the most successful PC supplier, in that its shipments grew by 5.2 percent. HP became the market leader, shipping 530,000 PCs, which was 10.7 percent down on last year's Q2. It was followed by Dell (408,000, -11.8 percent), Acer (341,000 -47.4 percent), Samsung (181,000, +5.2 percent), and Apple (170,000, +1.0 percent). "Others" shipped 832,000 units, a decline of 2.4 percent.
Gartner noted that "the poor performance of Acer this quarter does not mask the fact that the consumer market in the UK remained weak". Gartner principal analyst Isabelle Durand said: "Most consumers continue to hold back spending on PCs by extending life cycles on existing PCs and purchasing other devices."
In Germany, PC shipments fell by 13.3 percent to 2.4 million units, with Acer shipments plunging by 43.1 percent. The Top 5 were, in order, HP, Acer, Dell, Medion and Asus. HP was the most successful supplier in Germany, increasing its shipments by 33.8 percent to 445,000 units. Gartner said: "Demand in the professional PC market has improved as organizations released budgets to migrate aging PCs to Windows 7. HP in particular seemed to benefit from this upturn in the professional market."
In France, PC shipments fell by 17.8 percent to 2.4 million units, with Acer shipments plunging by 39.6 percent. The Top 5 were, in order, HP, Acer, Asus, Dell and Apple. Gartner saw a 9 percent growth in the professional market, but said the French consumer PC market "declined 33 percent partly due to the rise in popularity of media tablets and smartphones, which impacted PC purchases."
The PC market in Western Europe is mostly a replacement market: people who want or need PCs already have them. There has been some growth as consumers have bought a netbook as their second or third PC, but the third or fourth device now looks more likely to be something different.