Despite Ultrabooks: The PC market in Western Europe is shrinking


Throughout Western Europe, 13.6 million PCs were sold between April and June, down 2.4 percent year-on-year, according to Gartner. In Germany, it was 6.5 percent even more downhill. "While there was a slight uptick in mobile PC sales, overall, PC shipments were weak across countries, " states Meike Escherich, Principal Analyst at Gartner.

Notebook sales in Western Europe increased 4 percent in the second quarter of 2012, while the desktop segment decreased 12.8 percent. Companies bought 5.8 percent fewer computers than a year earlier, and the consumer market stagnated more or less at 0.4 percent growth.

On the manufacturer side, Hewlett-Packard maintained its leading position in Western Europe despite falling market share. According to Gartner, Acer has now better control of his storage problems, increasing his market share by 2.7 percent and thus keeping second place. The best of the top five providers was Asus and moved up to third place.

"Consumers are holding back on PC purchases, given the uncertain economic environment, " says analyst Escherich. "If that's the case, there may be some inventory remaining before the launch of Windows 8 in October, which could lead to significant price reductions in September while making it difficult to sell new products into the trading channel in the third quarter of 2012."

Of the largest national markets grew only France, where 2.5 million PCs were sold at least 0.7 percent more than in the second quarter of 2011. In the UK also 2.5 million computers were delivered, which there, however, a minus of 7.6 percent means.

In Germany, 2.6 million PCs delivered 6.5 percent fewer devices in the second quarter of 2012 than in the same period of the previous year. The gap between notebooks and desktops is even wider in this country than in the rest of Western Europe - with mobile computers Gartner has determined a plus of 3.9 percent, whereas stationary PCs went down by 20.2 percent. The German consumer segment fell by 8.2 percent more than the professional demand with 4.9 percentage points.

"The second was a transitional quarter, where everyone was waiting for two important events: more Ultrabook releases and the launch of Windows 8, " says Gartner-Ms. Escherich. "The PC vendors and channels carefully control the inventory levels for both of them - and that can significantly dampen the numbers."

Acer moved up to No. 1 in the manufacturer ranking for the German PC market and was able to gain a whopping 29 percent in the professional segment. "Acer is delivering on its promise to shift its profits more into the B2B sector, " comments Escherich. Lenovo came in second, thanks to strong sales in the retail sector (the Chinese acquired Aldi's Medion supplier) and even became the market leader in the home segment with 16 percent market share. HP fell back to third place in Germany, which pushes Escherich, inter alia, on poor performance due to the merger of the PC and printer business.

"The industry has great hope these days for the emergence of the new ultra-thin and lightweight form factor for mobile PCs, which could bridge the gap between notebooks and tablets." Most of the R & D funds have gone into ultrabook development, along with Intel's massive investments to push this market, "says Escherich. "We expect ultrabook prices to drop from $ 800 to $ 1, 000 to $ 700 and below in the second half of 2012, which could generate some additional demand."