UK PC market finds its legs at last

Strong growth in shipments for the fourth quarter has been driven not just by Christmas sales, but also by renewed corporate spending

The UK PC market, including servers, laptops and desktops, showed double-digit growth for the fourth quarter of last year, driven by rising demand from consumers, businesses and the public sector, according to research from IDC published on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, IDC reported that Europe was the world's fastest-growing PC market in terms of units for Q4 2003, growth having been driven by price cuts, a gradual renewal in spending by businesses and the strength of the euro.

The market grew by 16.9 percent compared with the same quarter last year, IDC said, with double-digit growth across all form factors. Growth was 13.7 percent for the full year compared with 2002. Q4 includes Christmas-related sales, but growth was partly based on a business rebound, IDC said.

Notebook shipments grew 28.2 percent year on year, desktops 11.6 percent and servers 32.8 percent. Shortages of flat-panel displays hit the industry in 2003, but the largest vendors were able to maintain supplies and cut system specifications in order to compensate for higher flat-panel prices, IDC said.

The commercial desktop market showed its strongest growth since the end of 2000, with 14.6 percent growth year-on-year, IDC said. "Although this must be put into the context of some poor growth rates in 2001 and 2002, this figure does provide further indication of the distinct uplift in corporate renewals that has been taking place over the last few quarters," said Ian Gibbs, research analyst for IDC's European personal computing team, in a statement.

Commercial notebooks grew by 17.5 percent year-on-year, helped by sales to small and medium businesses.

Competition for major corporate deals has been fierce and will continue to pick up, IDC said, fuelling x86 server growth of 37.9 percent year-on-year.

Consumer mobility
Consumer notebooks continued to boom, with 52.3 percent year-on-year growth, but IDC said the consumer desktop isn't yet a dinosaur. Consumer desktops grew 8.9 percent year-on-year, as consumers showed interest in multimedia entertainment PCs.

The public sector also contributed to overall growth, with major infrastructure deals from the Inland Revenue, the Department for Work and Pensions, and the MOD, IDC said.

HP took over the No. 1 spot from Dell in the UK, as in the rest of Europe, with 19.2 percent market share. Dell maintained a strong position with 25.6 percent year-on-year growth, and kept its No. 1 position in the business market.

IDC also released figures for the German PC market on Tuesday, finding that shipments reached their highest levels yet with 2.5 million units for the fourth quarter. Overall growth was 17.1 percent year-on-year for the quarter, with notebooks leading the way.

In contrast to the UK, German desktop shipments showed negative year-on-year growth for the sixth consecutive quarter.