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Western Europe PC sales climb in 2010

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 11 January 2011

The latest data from channel research house Context has shown that . Fourth quarter unit sales were only up 3.2% on the previous year. According to Context, sales peaked in September 2010 before declining steadily in the fourth quarter. Despite the overall jump December unit sales were actually down 6.7% year-on-year with revenues for the month slipping 3.8%.

“Consumer PC sales across Western Europe fell 16.2% in December and were a significant factor in the quarter’s slow growth”, said Jeremy Davies, CEO at Context. “This was no doubt partly caused by difficult trading conditions brought about by the bad weather across the region, but must also be a reflection on the tough economic times for consumers.”

Despite the fall-off in consumer PC sales, Context claims that tablet PC sales skyrocketed in the last quarter of 2010, with Apple accounting for more than half of all units tracked. At the same time, the preference for the large all-in-one devices declined in the fourth quarter of 2010 while ultra-slim desktop units and micro-towers found increasing favour, according to Context.

Sales of PCs aimed at business buyers held up in the last quarter of the year and continued the recovery that started in the second quarter of 2010. Revenues were up 9.9% in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to a year earlier, driven mainly by HP, Lenovo and Toshiba. European business desktop product refreshes continued into the end of the year, with desktop PC revenues up 12.8%.

PC revenues held up well and grew 7.0% in the quarter despite the slowdown in unit PC sales during the fourth quarter of 2010, as reported by the Context Distributor Panel, made up of Western Europe’s leading IT distributors. This was due in part to continuing steady recovery and growth in high-value workstation and PC server category as previously mentioned, but mainly because low value netbook PCs sales stopped growing. Until the third quarter of 2010, Context reports that netbook sales were still advancing at around 20% growth in unit terms, but by the fourth quarter of 2010 sales growth had stopped.

PC sales growth across Western Europe in the final quarter of 2010 reflected individual countries’ economic fortunes. Hardest hit was Belgium, with unit sales down 15.8%. France and Spain also saw negative growth but to a lesser degree, with sales down 2.1% and 3.4% respectively. UK sales were more resilient, and showed growth of 5.9% in the quarter, mainly due to strength in desktop PC and server sales.

In terms of the major PC vendors, Lenovo, Toshiba and Apple increased their sales via distribution, with relative newcomer MSI making a significant impact. Toshiba has reversed a decline in channel business and in revenue terms grew sales across Western Europe 16.9% in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to last year. Apple sales via distribution continued to climb and finished the year with revenues up 92.6%, while Lenovo continued its channel push and grew revenues 35.7% in the fourth quarter. MSI made a strong showing growing channel revenues 16.8%.

"Overall, despite softness in the final quarter, 2010 was a good year for the Western European PC market," said Davies. "Looking forward to 2011, we’re expecting to see a large impact of tablet PC sales in the first half, and if notebook PC sales hold up - and there is no reason to think they won’t - we expect similar growth rates with improved average selling prices and therefore revenues."

Context’s Jeremy Davies is participating at next month’s DISTREE XXL event in Monaco. During the course of the channel conference, representatives from Context will run a workshop session, present a keynote speech and participate in the event’s Strategy Forum.


Top distributors, retailers and e-tailers from across the EMEA region are invited to attend DISTREE XXL 2011, the premier event for the regional ICT and CE channel, from February 8-11th in Monaco.

DISTREE XXL gathers 400-plus senior executives from EMEA’s Information Communications Technologies (ICT) & Consumer Electronics (CE) volume distribution channel.

During the course of the three-day event, delegates take part in thousands of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with hundreds of vendors. Each year, hundreds of new distribution agreements are struck across EMEA as a result of business relationships initiated at DISTREE XXL.

DISTREE XXL 2011 will also build on successful initiatives launched at last year’s sold out event including a regional awards ceremony. The ‘EMEA Channel Academy: 2011 Awards’ will include more than a dozen awards handed out to vendors and distributors from across the region. www.distree.com/xxl

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