European PC shipments down, Apple faring well in UK

Ouch, ouch, and ouch. PC shipments are down in Western Europe as the global PC market struggles during the spring-summer dry spell. But sales will likely rocket towards the end of the year.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Bad news for the PC market in Western Europe, as shipments are down year-on-year at the end of Q2 2012, according to figures released today by Gartner.

Shipments in the already troubled region have fallen by 2.4 percent in the past four quarters, compared to the same period in 2011.

The professional PC market declined 5.3 percent, Gartner said, while the consumer PC market remained pretty much flat, with a meager 0.4 percent growth.

Though, it's not all doom and gloom. Despite the top players losing out on positive growth -- notably HP, which retains the top spot, and Dell which fell to fourth place -- the up-and-comers have fared remarkably well.

Europe accounts for 15 percent of the global PC market (comparing Gartner's global PC figures). Europe is therefore a good benchmark for the overall market, euro zone worries and sluggish economic conditions notwithstanding.

(After speaking to my colleague, ZDNet's Ed Bott, it's worth noting that because this is a "new Windows version year," PC shipments in the run up to the release are in a greater decline. In short, both consumers and OEMs are shifting their activities to the end of the year in preparation of the Windows 8 release. For example, in 2009 when PC makers were anticipating the launch of Windows 7, Q2 shipments fell by 5 percent. As a consequence of the pent-up demand, Q4 shipments went through the roof as one might expect with the busy holiday sales. Go figure.)

Acer saw a 15.3 percent growth in a year, totalling 2.36 million shipments and holding 17 percent of the European market share, while Lenovo shipped a positive yet somewhat disappointing 1.05 million PCs, holding 7.8 percent of the market share. (Lenovo is the rising star in the PC world as it is poised to take the crown from HP in global market share rankings in the this quarter.)

Asus rocketed ahead, and saw the most growth coming close to doubling its overall share with 1.46 million shipments in the four quarters ending in June.  

Screen Shot 2012-08-09 at 12.44.04
Source: Gartner

Globally, it's a bleak picture, but as the West shifts towards a post-PC world, traditional PC makers on the whole may be experiencing individual pockets of growth, they are not shipping as many units as they otherwise could be. Those on the up are faring the storm well, while the major players are suffering the most. 

The shift in which devices we buy is key to the numbers. Gartner said while desktop-based PC shipments declined by close to 13 percent in Q2 2012, mobile PC shipments -- such as notebooks, but not tablets -- rose by 4 percent. It's exactly why Asus did so well. 

"Asus excelled at diversifying its product portfolio, which includes mobile PCs and desk-based PCs, and it is now expanding into Ultrabooks and tablets, all of which are marketed at attractive prices," sad Gartner principal analyst Meike Escherich.

The U.K. saw the steepest drop in figures out of Western Europe's total base, which shouldn't come as a massive surprise considering the industry slow down and a sluggish time of year to buy PCs. The U.K. isn't part of the euro zone, so was largely unaffected by financial troubles, but the U.K. remains in a double-dip recession which has on the whole squeezed IT spending.

Screen Shot 2012-08-09 at 12.44.35
Source: Gartner

Apple managed to break into the top five PC vendors by selling 187,000 Macs in the past four quarters, and saw a 10 percent rise in growth.

Toshiba saw a huge growth by more than doubling its overall share year-on-year, while every other PC builder -- HP, Dell, and Acer -- saw their figures plummet, despite shipping more than 2.5 million units for a population of around 65 million. 

France saw a 0.7 percent increase in shipments overall. HP was down by 11 percent, Dell was down by 8 percent, while Acer, Asus, and Lenovo all saw growth in the 22-29 percent range. The third-quarter will be interesting for France, Escherich noted, with many holding out for the introduction of Windows 8 devices in October onwards.

In Germany, overall shipments fell by 6.5 percent. Acer rocketed to the top of the rankings with 371,000 shipments. Acer was the only PC maker to report growth, and growth it saw: it rose by more than 26 percent in the last year. Gartner attributed this to Acer's investment in the business-to-business sector, but noted ultrabooks would play a major part in IT spending in the coming quarters. 

"We expect that the prices of ultrabooks will decrease in the second half of 2012, from the current $800 to $1,000 range to $700 or less, which could create some additional demand," Escherich noted.

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