PC Market in Western Europe Declined 11.7% in the Fourth Quarter of 2012

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PC shipments in Western Europe totaled 15.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012 a decline of 11.7 percent compared with the same period in 2011 according to Gartner. In 2012 PC shipments reached 58 million units a decrease of 8.4 percent from 2011.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, all PC segments in Western Europe declined. Mobile and desktop PC shipments declined 12.1 percent and 10.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, respectively. The decrease in the professional PC market was less severe due to replacement purchases and fell 4.9 percent, while the consumer PC market declined 17.6 percent year-on-year.

"The PC market in Western Europe is in a downward spiral," said Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner. "In 2012, it experienced the second consecutive year of decline, but less steeply than in 2011, when the PC market in Western Europe decreased 14 percent. The second consecutive yearly decline indicates that the issues the PC market faces are beyond a weak economy, a poorly understood new operating system, or Ultramobiles being priced too high to generate demand."

HP lost share in the mobile and home PC segments in Western Europe, but remained the market leader in the desktop and professional PC markets with nearly 10 percent market share ahead of its nearest rival (see Table 1). HP's new leadership has undertaken a number of initiatives to reignite its business. In the fourth quarter of 2012, Acer, Lenovo and Asus reached 11 percent market share.

Acer, which held the No. 2 spot in the overall PC sales market in Western Europe, dropped to third place behind Asus in the home PC segment, with shipments declining 25 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011. Lenovo's strong focus to increase market share helped it become the No. 2 PC vendor in the professional PC market with a 4 percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2012. Lenovo also grew 65 percent in the consumer PC market in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Asus saw its Western Europe PC shipments decline in the fourth quarter of 2012, indicating that its pricing had moved upwards to higher price points because of the midrange-to-high-end Windows 8 system. Dell dropped to fifth place, with shipments in the consumer PC market nearly halved from the fourth quarter of 2011. Dell also felt the pressure from HP and Lenovo in the professional PC segment, where both vendors focused on gaining share over increasing their profit protection.

"In the future, we expect buyers will not replace secondary or tertiary PCs in their households by allowing them to become obsolete, preferring instead to purchase tablets. We should see an increase in PC margins as users favor PCs with richer applications," said Ms. Escherich.

U.K.: PC Shipments Contracted in Fourth Quarter of 2012 and Fell 3 Percent in 2012

PC shipments in the U.K. totaled 3.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a slight decrease of 0.7 percent compared with the same period in 2011 (see Table 2). In 2012, the PC market declined 3 percent totaling 11.7 million units, after a fall of 13 percent in 2011.

"Any seasonal consumer upturn in the fourth quarter of 2012 failed to occur," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "The shift to other devices has become a permanent trend, leaving the PC market struggling to show value, either from Windows 8 or the new thinner and lighter PCs. While the consumer PC market continued to decline, the professional PC market returned to growth after two consecutive quarters of decline."

In the fourth quarter of 2012, HP extended its lead and remained in the No. 1 position, with strong growth in both consumer and professional PC markets. Dell's consumer PC market continued to shrink, but in common with most of the top five vendors, saw an upturn in the professional PC market, where Lenovo took the lead with a 45 percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2012. Lenovo's strong performance in the professional PC market helped to close the gap with Dell during the same quarter.

"While PC vendors keep hoping for a 'PC plus' era, in reality we are in a smartphone/tablet era, where tablets are winning the battle for content consumption and smartphones are at the forefront of mobility. PCs are continuing to be marginalized and 2013 will be no different," said Mr. Atwal.

Market Weakness in France Continued During the Fourth Quarter of 2012

PC shipments in France totaled 2.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a decrease of 13.6 percent compared with the same period in 2011 (see Table 3). In 2012, PC shipments reached 10 million units, a 6.4 percent decline from 2011. This is the second consecutive year that the PC market in France has declined.

"PC sales in France continued downward," said Isabelle Durand, principal research analyst at Gartner. "The PC market in France declined for the second consecutive quarter in 2012 and saw the strongest decline of the three major countries in Western Europe in the fourth quarter of 2012."

The launch of Windows 8 had no impact on PC demand, and the holiday season saw retailers clear out their Windows 7 notebook inventories and drive their volumes of low-end notebooks. Both consumer and professional PC markets continued to decline, with the consumer PC market experiencing the sharpest fall of 19.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Ultrabook sales remained low. The Ultraportable segment accounted for 11 percent of all mobile PCs shipped in France during the quarter.

Shipments of mobile PCs in France decreased 12.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, while desktop PCs declined 15.5 percent year-on-year. "The increasing choice of tablets at a lower price was no doubt a favorite Christmas present ahead of PCs," said Ms. Durand.

Asus maintained the No. 2 position, gaining 3.1 percentage points in market share in the fourth quarter of 2012 and clearly positioned itself as a strong consumer PC vendor in the French PC market. HP remained the No. 1 PC vendor in France, thanks to its good performance in the professional PC segment, but it faces challenges in the consumer PC market. Acer lost the No. 3 position to Dell, exhibiting the steepest year-on-year decline, mainly due to slow netbook sales and inventory build-up from the previous quarter. The vendor is also going through a period of readjusting its strategy. Lenovo showed continued growth, thanks to its expansion in the consumer PC market.

"Overall, we expect the PC market in France to remain weak and exhibit a double-digit decline in the first quarter of 2013. PC sales will continue to compete with media tablets, as the proliferation of lower-priced tablets will increase their market potential at the expense of mobile PCs," said Ms. Durand.

Germany: PC Shipments Declined 12 Percent in the Fourth Quarter of 2012

PC shipments in Germany totaled 3.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a decrease of 11.9 percent compared with the same period in 2011 (see Table 4). In 2012, 1 million fewer PCs were shipped than in 2011, which resulted in the PC market in Germany declining 8 percent from 2011.

Mobile PC shipments declined 15 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, while desktop PC volumes decreased 6 percent year on year. Consumer and professional PC demand declined 13 percent and 11 percent.

"The battle for consumer wallet share continues between the different devices," said Ms. Escherich. "The PC appears to be the first to fall by the wayside side as usage patterns have shifted toward smartphones and tablets. This ongoing trend will have a profound impact on the current and potential installed base for PCs. Neither Windows 8 nor the new Ultramobile PCs were able to generate significant new PC demand during the fourth quarter," said Ms. Escherich.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, Lenovo moved to the No. 1 position in the German PC market with above market performance in all segments, and it experienced 36 percent growth in the home PC market. HP rose to the second spot, while Acer moved to third place. HP performed above the market average in both the home and professional PC markets, but the gap with Lenovo is widening rapidly. In the fourth quarter of 2012, both Acer and Asus lost market share, and both vendors saw PC shipment declines of around 30 percent in the consumer PC market. Fujitsu returned to the top five PC vendor rankings in Germany, narrowly beating Dell. Fujitsu saw strong growth in the desktop market, where it returned to second place, behind HP.

"While 2013 will remain a challenging year for the PC market in Germany, the introduction of Intel's Haswell CPU will possibly create a little more optimism in the Ultramobile segment as users begin to see the value of a full day's battery life and better performance products," said Ms. Escherich.

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