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XP retirement helps stabilise EMEA PC shipments

IDC figures reveal strong growth in some commercial sectors

XP retirement helps stabilise EMEA PC shipments
EMEA shipments have now been declining for seven consecutive quarters, but the pace of contraction slowed in Q1.

PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) reached 21.8m units in the first quarter of 2014, which resulted in a decline of only 1.1% in comparison with the same quarter in 2013, according to the latest figures from International Data Corporation (IDC).

The EMEA market stabilised as Western Europe returned to growth at 8.6%, supported by an upturn in business demand across the region, which drove a 15.1% increase in the commercial space, while consumer shipments also returned to more stable trends showing growth of 2.1%.  At the same time, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) remained partially impacted by high inventory and currency fluctuations and declined by 16.7% while MEA saw an 8.4% drop in shipments as parts of the region continued to suffer from political unrest.

Total EMEA shipments have now been declining for seven consecutive quarters, but the pace of contraction slowed considerably during the quarter; despite areas of improvement, the market has not yet fully recovered. Desktop PC shipments increased by 1.4%, while portable PCs continued to contract by 2.6%.

"The end of Windows XP support was a major driver of the commercial rebound, and supported renewals mainly in the desktop area," said Chrystelle Labesque, research manager, EMEA Personal Computing, IDC.

"In the European Union, as the macroeconomic outlook improved, companies started to invest in IT again after many quarters of postponing decisions. In other parts of the region political unrest and negative exchange rate evolution were inhibitors to market growth. The first quarter of 2013 was marked by a strong decline, leading to a favourable year-on-year comparison in the consumer segment. Desktop and portable PCs with new features like touch generated higher interest among end users after years of delaying purchases.  However, consumer shipments remained constrained."

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PC shipments in Western Europe posted growth, benefitting particularly from a very strong increase in commercial demand. The end of Windows XP support, an aging installed base, and an increase in business confidence stemming from improving macroeconomic outlooks all contributed to stronger demand in the enterprise space and fuelled corporate renewals. For the fourth consecutive quarter, commercial PC shipments in Western Europe surpassed those in the consumer market, as traditional form factors remain key productivity tools in the enterprise environment. Desktop PC shipments were a clear winner, growing by double digits and showing that traditional desktops are still favoured by businesses. For the first time in nearly two years the consumer market returned positive results, with shipments posting a slight increase, year on year.

"The majority of vendors focused on close inventory management following problems they experienced with high stock amid rapidly declining demand a year ago," said Maciek Gornicki, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing.

"As a result, low stock levels allowed for quick and efficient introduction of new models and stronger sell-in during the quarter as consumer demand stabilised and led to increased intake of orders by retailers and distributors. While consumers in Europe are still spending on tablets and smartphones, interest in desktop and portable PCs has increased again recently, as some end users start to purchase PCs again after years of delayed renewals."

"According to expectations, the overall PC market in Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa recorded a year-on-year decline of 12%," said Stefania Lorenz, associate VP, IDC CEMA Systems.

"The regions' market mix reported quite different results from previous predictions, however. The CEE region contracted further, recording a year-on-year decline of 17%. Many factors inhibited PC market growth: political unrest in major markets, economic uncertainty and high unemployment, topped with unfavourable exchange rates were all causes for slowdown and budget restrictions.  The MEA region, on the contrary, performed better than expected, though still at minus 8% on a year-on-year comparison."

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"In the first quarter of the year the portable PC market recorded a yearly contraction of 20% in the CEE region, with Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan reporting a major slowdown," said Nikolina Jurisic, product manager, IDC CEMA Systems.

"The desktop PC market declined by 11% year-on-year, the commercial market was able to perform slightly better compared to the consumer space, but not enough to balance the overall results. Poland, Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary all reported overall positive results mostly driven by demand within the commercial space. The MEA region saw a slightly better result in the consumer space, with very mixed results for the country dynamics in the region."

Vendor highlights

HP posted a strong quarter in both the consumer and commercial markets, growing in WE and MEA. A favorable year-on-year comparison and numerous product launches explained part of the success. Furthermore, the continued execution of the new strategy paid dividends.

Lenovo continued its expansion across EMEA and outperformed the market with an increase of 33% in total shipments.  Lenovo was also able to increase shares in all three subregions. Key elements of the success included wide product offer, channel coverage and execution of the "attack and protect" strategy.

Dell took the third place, achieving another strong quarter.  The vendor fully leveraged its commercial strength and benefited also from investment in building an indirect channel in the latter quarters.  Shipments grew in WE and MEA.

Acer ranked fourth. Results were in line with the market in the portable PC area across most of the region, the quarter also being a period of transition for the vendor, with several refreshes and a new portfolio coming up next quarter. The vendor is also focusing on growth in tablets as well as on a stronger engagement in the commercial market.

Asus kept its fifth place thanks to growth in notebook shipments and a strong increase in the desktop area.  The vendor gained market share in the region, building upon product innovation and leveraging from launches after shortages in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Outside the top 5 vendors, Toshiba remained in sixth place facing the challenges of a slow consumer market. Apple, in seventh position, fared well despite an unfavorable yearly comparison when Q1 2013 was boosted by a backlog of new All-In-Ones.

Fujitsu took over eighth place with good results in the desktop or in overall commercial space, depending on the country.  Sony shipments declined in the region following the recent announcement of its exit from the PC market. Samsung closed the top 10 ranking in EMEA with another quarter of decline due to disinvestment from mainstream portable PC and a switched focus on Chromebooks and high-end Ultrabooks.

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