Europe's PC mountain barely dented in price slash bloodbath

Biz still buying boxes, but consumers go slab-happy

Tit-for-tat price-cutting from notebook vendors pummelled the value of the PC market in Europe during July but failed to make more than a dent in inventory levels that have been building up since the Christmas quarter last year.

And August, which heralds the Back to School season for the channel, is also looking conspicuously slow according to analyst Context, which tracks sales out numbers via disties.

Context's stats show that unit shipments in the region – excluding tablets – were flat for last month compared to the year ago period, but that revenues had declined 11.7 per cent.

"Consumer demand is still collapsing but what is holding up relatively well is the business sector," Context joint founder and CEO Jeremy Davies told El Reg.

Distribution shipments to retail outlets fell nearly 17 per cent in total, including a 28 per cent dive in desktops sales and a 16 per cent drop in notebook sales.

Efforts by consumer PC vendors to clear stocks – with all impacted to some degree – took a toll on market revenues, which fell by 28 per cent on July 2010.

Biz shipments held up relatively well, growing nearly 11 per cent, and price-cutting in this space was comparatively more measured as revenues dipped just 3.6 per cent.

"There is some stability in this sector as it tends to be less reliant on discretionary spending," said Davies.

Led by Apple, tablets sales were almost immune to dynamics that pulled down the traditional PC market, reporting a rise of 30 per cent "fuelled mainly by demand for the iPad", he added.

UK sales numbers were worse than the Euro average, with unit shipments – again excluding tablet loveliness – down 9.2 per cent as the "large price reductions to get rid of unsold inventory" caused a revenue decline of 9.5 per cent.

Distie PC shipments to consumer-oriented outlets fell by a third, "affecting desktops the same as notebooks" as revenues fell 38.2 per cent. The biz sector also held up locally, with units growing 17.5 per cent and revenues up nearly 16 per cent.

The showing of vendors in the UK obviously mirrored the market dynamics – apart from Apple which grew through the channel by 267 per cent. HP and Lenovo grew sales by 8.5 per cent and 15.6 per cent respectively.

But those with more of a reliance on consumers declined: Asus UK sales fell 24 per cent; Acer was down 8.3 per cent; Samsung dipped 3.4 per cent; while Toshiba and Sony collapsed 34 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

Davies added that the summer season ramp lifted by Back to School spending, but the ramp had not materialised yet, and "some investments have been deferred". ®

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