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Box shifters cram UK market with crusty PCs to make room for Win 8

'Cripes, boss, what about this old stuff?' 'FLOG IT!'

PC shipments into the UK channel declined in the last quarter as vendors focussed on lobbing out Windows 7 machines ahead of the Windows 8 launch. However, in the midst of a recession, no one really noticed any shortages of computers.

Abacus-fondling Gartner reckons 2.98 million desktops and notebooks were pushed into the UK supply chain in the third quarter of 2012, a decline of 7.2 per cent on a year ago when things weren't exactly great.

Talking to The Channel, Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal, said the slide spoke to parlous state of PC demand.

"No consumer or professional group are buying PCs in any particular volumes," he told us.

After getting caught out with mountains of unsold laptops last year, wholesalers ordered stock more conservatively this year - but Atwal said this was not a cause of declining sales-in.

"It was more about vendors transitioning to products from Windows 7 to Windows 8, rather than distributors saying no [to orders]," he said.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, at one PC maker said the manufacturer tried to get the balance right but had "probably transitioned stock more aggressively than we should".

Gartner data showed that sales-in of notebooks (62 per cent of total PC market) slipped three per cent year on year and desktops slumped 12 per cent. The UK PC market has been depressed since Q3 2010 when the consumer notebook wave that offset weakness in corporate land ended.

The vendor line-up remained fairly unchanged on a year ago: HP, which still leads the pack with 18.5 per cent market share, saw its sales decline by three per cent, much slower than the market average.

In second place, Dell recorded sales down 22.6 per cent, taking its market share to 11.8 per cent. The firm is gunning for profitable PC business but at the expense of sales volumes.

Sales at Taiwanese firm Acer dropped 17 per cent and its share of shipments fell to 9.3 per cent, but it too is no longer focused on sales-in but sales-out to customers after its major stocking woes in 2011.

Notebook specialist Toshiba pushed up shipments into the channel by 27 per cent, which took its share to 8.9 per cent. Apple Mac sales were up 2.5 per cent and its share of UK sales was 7.9 per cent.

Edging closer to the top five, Lenovo - which unseated HP at the top of the global PC market last month depending on which analyst you believe - grew sales-in by nine per cent, taking its share to 6.6 per cent.

Atwal said Lenovo needed to break into the retail market aggressively to enter the upper echelons of the sector, but the UK was already "fairly well penetrated".

Across Western Europe, the PC market declined 15 per cent to 13.6 million units, said Gartner. ®

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