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Despite Strong CEE Performance, EMEA PC Shipments Decline by 6.5% in 4Q11, as Weakness in Western Europe Continues, Says IDC

(PresseBox) (London, ) As expected, PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) continued to contract in 4Q11 as sustained weakness in consumer demand and a slowdown in the commercial segment led to a decline of 6.5% in overall PC shipments compared with the same quarter last year. This brings total PC shipments in the EMEA region to 103 million units for the full year 2011 - a 7% decline compared with 2010.

"Western Europe remained the most impacted as PC shipments contracted for the fifth consecutive quarter, recording a decline of 11.5%. Sustained weakness in consumer demand for PCs remained the key inhibitor of improvement, with shipments contracting by 16.1%, while commercial trends have also taken a turn for the worse and returned to negative, at -5.2%, following a brief positive upturn in 3Q11," said Eszter Morvay, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing.

Both consumer and commercial segments have been feeling the pressure of the escalating debt crisis across the eurozone, leading to shrinking disposable income for consumers and tighter budgets and increasing caution regarding business investments. The SMB segment in particular continued to suffer from weak local demand and lack of access to credit, while the public sector across most countries has been under pressure due to budget cuts and austerity measures, adversely impacting PC demand. But the enterprise space continued to fare better and help support overall commercial volume, driven by ongoing hardware renewals.

In addition to the economic uncertainty, consumer spending for PCs has also been increasingly competing with other devices, particularly media tablets, which continued to enjoy strong demand in the run-up to Christmas, leaving demand for PC lackluster. Although consumer portable PC shipments declined 15.4% in 4Q11, it was due to a sharp 48.8% drop in mini-notebook sales, while mainstream notebooks declined more moderately, at 3.1%.

"Fearing weak consumer sales at Christmas and slowing commercial demand, retailers and distributors across the region remained cautious when taking new orders in order to avoid an inventory build-up similar to last year. Heavy investments from both vendors and channel partners into inventory management over the past 12 months have led to stock levels returning to more manageable levels last quarter," said Morvay.

As demand remained weak, the shortage of HDD supply had a limited impact in 4Q11. In the consumer space, volumes destined to be sold in the pre-Christmas period are manufactured and shipped by sea by mid-November using HDD inventory manufactured prior to the flooding. In the commercial segment the share of air shipments is higher, therefore the lack of sufficient HDD supply could have had a bigger impact, but vendors prioritized higher-margin commercial SKUs versus consumer models.

"In 4Q11 the PC market in the CEMA region reported healthier than expected growth at 1.3% year on year, despite the political instability in some of the Middle East and Africa countries, the financial crisis that spilled over to Central and Eastern Europe, and the hard disk drive shortage," said Stefania Lorenz, research director, IDC CEMA. "In CEE the PC market reported a 7.4% annual increase, with strong portable PC growth at 14.4%, outperforming desktops, which contracted by 4.8%. The consumer notebook market in particular remained healthy despite a slight increase in ASPs in some countries. Some of the largest countries also signed deals in the public and telco sectors. In comparison with the healthy performance of CEE, the Middle East and Africa region reported a decline of 6.7% in overall PC shipments. Both desktop and portable sales contracted by 12.1% and 3.4% year on year respectively."

Vendor Highlights

HP maintained a strong leadership in EMEA, its performance driven by sustained expansion in CEE, which led to HP taking first place in the overall CEE ranking. But results in MEA were severely impacted by the HDD supply shortage, which contributed to a sharp drop in shipments following four quarters of double-digit growth. The vendor performed in the line with the market in Western Europe, but, unlike previous quarters, it drove healthy growth in the consumer notebook market again, having successfully restored its inventory balance across the region in 3Q11, while commercial shipments contracted significantly after four quarters of double-digit growth.

Acer remained in second place despite posting the fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit decline. Although inventory levels have returned to manageable levels across most countries, the vendor continued to suffer from alienating its channel partners, which have become more cautious when placing new orders.

Dell regained the third place it lost to ASUS last quarter, thanks to strong growth in MEA, where the vendor won several public sector deals, but expansion in CEE also continued unabated. The vendor's performance in Western Europe remained constrained, due to a sharp drop in consumer sales, but Dell reported outstanding results in the commercial segment, gaining share from HP.

ASUS slipped to fourth place despite posting healthy double-digit growth. The vendor's performance was driven by robust expansion across both CEE and MEA, while results in Western Europe returned to flat trends, adversely impacted by declining mini-notebook sales.

Lenovo maintained fifth place, reporting strong double-digit growth and consolidating market share in EMEA. The vendor benefited from the acquisition of Medion in the consumer space, while reinforcing its position in the commercial segment.

Toshiba regained sixth place in the overall EMEA ranking despite a sharp drop in CEE and weak results in Western Europe. Samsung reported its first decline in five years, due to a sharp drop in Western Europe, where results were impacted by slowing notebook sales and waning mini-notebook demand. Apple leveraged from the traditionally strong Christmas period to maintain healthy growth, particularly in the consumer segment. Sony returned to negative trends, due to a contraction in Western Europe, but expansion across CEMA continued unabated. Fujitsu posted yet another quarter of healthy double-digit growth, driven by expansion in CEE and continued recovery in Western Europe.

IDC Central Europe GmbH

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