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Gartner offers European insight for third quarter

by Stuart Wilson, Friday 13 November 2009

Research house Gartner has revealed that PC shipments in Western Europe fell 0.3% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2009 to 16.7m units. Despite the year-on-year drop, third quarter shipments were up 30% sequentially compared to the second quarter of 2009.

“The Western European PC market saw varied results across Europe with two of the largest markets, Germany and France showing growth, and smaller markets like Spain and Northern Europe exhibiting a decline,” said Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst at Gartner, based in the UK.

According to Gartner, the market dynamics were similar across most countries, with weak professional markets and more positive consumer markets.

“What will vary going forward will be the speed at which the professional market will grow,” Atwal said. “Some markets will see growth much faster than others creating bigger opportunities for vendors. The time-span of the decline varied across countries in the third quarter of 2009, with countries such as France that have only had one quarter of shipment decline before returning to growth, whereas the UK, Spain and Ireland have seen a prolonged negative performance in the market.”

Mini-notebooks – often referred to as netbooks – were the driving force behind growth in the consumer market in the third quarter of 2009. Gartner claims that the success of mini-notebooks continued to surprise many vendors that have only reluctantly joined the market with products, fearing further revenue declines per unit without sufficient profit margins. Vendors like Acer and Samsung have taken the greatest advantage of the mini-notebook boom, generating significant sales through telecoms channels

According to Gartner, Acer led the way in the third quarter in Western Europe with 28.3% market share, followed by HP with 21.5%, Dell with 9.5%, Asus with 6.5% and Toshiba with 5.8%. The total number of PC shipments in Western Europe during the quarter hit 16.69m units.

“Samsung is growing significantly in the PC market with 138% growth year-on-year. Its brand presence created by its mobile phone, televisions and other consumer electronics markets is certainly being leveraged by Samsung’s PC department,” added Atwal.

In the third quarter of 2009, apart from Acer, the biggest winners, Apple and Samsung, were outside the top five. Gartner expects the Western European PC market to exhibit growth in the fourth quarter and reach more-sustained growth in 2010.

The UK market

PC shipments in the UK hit 3.3m units in the third quarter of 2009, a decrease of 2.4% year-on-year. The third quarter showed sequential jump of 30%.

“The decline in the PC market in the UK has slowed down and the return to growth will be slow and a difficult process,” said Atwal. “While the consumer market continued to defy the economic environment, the business market was still very weak.”

“With consumer spending restricted, mini-notebooks are becoming more appealing as they provide better functionality at the lower price points,” added Atwal. “Most of the PC vendors now offer mini-notebooks as they realise the importance of this category. Mini-notebooks represented more than 40% of the total consumer notebook market in the third quarter of 2009.”

The top five vendors in the UK in the third quarter were:

1. Acer 798,000 units

2. Dell 605,000 units

3. HP 577,000 units

4. Toshiba 214,000

5. Apple 165,000

Atwal explained: “Interestingly, two vendors at either end of the price spectrum are winning the battle. At one end, Acer continued to provide price-conscious products through multiple channels to attract a wider buying audience. At the other end, Apple leveraged the ‘halo’ effect of the Apple brand created by the iPods and iPhones into the PC arena, dominating the mid to higher price brackets.”

Atwal continued: “The PC market in the UK was weaker than both Germany and France, and it is not expected to become stronger than those countries in the near future.”

Netbooks drive French market

PC shipments in France climbed to 2.8m units in the third quarter 2009 – up 1.9% year-on-year. “After a decline in the second quarter of 2009, the PC market in France returned to growth driven by strong purchases in the consumer market,” said Isabelle Durand, principal analyst at Gartner, based in France.

The mobile consumer PC market grew 18% mainly as a result of increased shipment of mini-notebooks in the third quarter of 2009. Gartner estimates that 373,000 mini-notebooks were shipped in the third quarter of 2009 in France, representing 20% of total mobile PCs.

“Without the strong sales of mini-notebooks, the overall PC market in France would have declined 3% in the third quarter,” said Durand.

“We expect the PC market in France to continue to show growth during the fourth quarter of 2009, and we forecast that the market in 2009 will see an increase of less than 2%. The release of Windows 7 may help to bring in replacement demand from consumers, and the introduction of thin and light notebooks should also attract their attention,” concluded Durand.

The top five vendors in France in the third quarter were:

1. Acer 811,000 units

2. HP 750,000 units

3. Dell 267,000 units

4. Asus 225,000

5. Toshiba 162,000

German market performs strongly

PC shipments in Germany totalled 3.3m units in the third quarter of 2009, according to Gartner - an increase of 3.7% year-on-year and a 47% sequential rise. The third quarter saw the first sequential rise since the fourth quarter of 2008.

“Germany achieved the best performance of the three major markets in Europe this quarter,” said Meike Escherich, principal analyst at Gartner, based in the UK. “However, despite indications of improved consumer confidence, buyers are extremely price sensitive and the volumes shifted further to the lower price points - even more so than in past quarters.”

“The German economy is currently emerging from its deepest post-war recession, but the recovery will be restrained by the need to limit the deterioration of public finances,” said Escherich. “We forecast another slowdown in PC demand during the first half of 2010 compared with the latter half of 2009 and a sustained recovery should only start in late 2010.”

“In addition, while a new operating system release is not a growth driver as such, the Windows 7 release timing is nevertheless favourable as the end of the usual 12-month testing phase for organisations should coincide with renewed investments by the professional segment,” Escherich added.

The top five vendors in Germany in the third quarter were:

1. Acer 891,000 units

2. HP 486,000 units

3. Fujitsu 272,000 units

4. Asus 257,000

5. Dell 230,000

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