Western European PC shipments fell by 4.4% to 19.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to the 2009 quarter that was boosted by the launch of Microsoft Windows 7. However, Western Europe did better than the US, where Gartner previously reported a 6.6% decline in shipments to 19.1m units.
Gartner said: "In a weak economic environment, consumer spending shifted decisively from PCs to other consumer electronic devices, including media tablets, gaming machines and e-readers. A wait-and-see approach impacted PC spending as consumers expected new products and cheaper media tablets in the first quarter of 2011. Additionally, adverse weather conditions in several countries minimised foot traffic into retail shops, diminishing selling opportunities."
In the fourth quarter of 2010, HP regained the top spot from Acer, which "was affected by declining demand for mini-notebooks [ie netbooks] and an excess of channel inventory in some countries," said Gartner. HP shipped 4.3m PCs to take 22.1% of the market. It was followed by Acer (4.0m), Dell (1.9m), Asus (1.9m) and Apple (1.2m). Apple had 6.2% of the market by unit shipments.
The top three suppliers lost market share while both Asus (up 13.5%) and Apple (up 13.3%) gained market share.
In the UK, fourth quarter PC shipments fell by 2.7% to 3.7m units, though they grew by 5.4% to 13.1m units for the full year. HP's sales increased by 19% to 847,000 units, giving it 23.1% of the market in the fourth quarter. Acer's sales tumbled by 15.3% to 610,000 units as it slipped into second place. Acer was followed by Dell (601,000), Toshiba (313,000) and Apple (228,000).
Gartner said "the UK's professional PC market remained weak, declining 3.1%. The expected replacement cycle was again delayed as organisations extended PC life cycles."
By contrast, Apple made its first appearance in the top five in the UK and France. Gartner said: "Apple’s performance was the result of strong retail sales and high demand for the new MacBook Air."
In France, fourth quarter PC shipments fell by 5.2% to 3.1m units, with annual shipments climbing by 10% to 11.8m units. Acer led the top five table in the fourth quarter, shipping 729,000 units. Acer was followed by HP (709,000), Dell (364,000), Asus (345,000) and Apple (196,000).
In Germany, fourth quarter PC shipments fell by 5.4% to 3.9m units, with annual shipments climbing by 4.7% to 13.3m units. Acer again led the top five table in the fourth quarter, shipping 796,000 units. Acer was followed by HP (494,000), Asus (493,000), Dell (323,000), and Medion (295,000).
Over the long term, it looks as though HP (including Compaq) and Acer (including Packard Bell) will continue to vie for supremacy in Western Europe, while Dell may struggle to hold off the advance of Taiwan's second-largest PC company, Asus. The problem for both Acer and Asus, however, is that they greatly increased their unit shipments on the back of the boom in netbooks. Netbook sales are no longer booming, of course, and if they decline, both companies could suffer.