Less than six months ago forecasters were predicting continued gloom for the European PC market.
Sales had been hit hard in 2017 by price hikes amid component shortages and as US vendors sought to maintain margins by offsetting the rise in value of the US dollar versus both the Euro and the Brit pound.
However, businesses aren't so gloomy after all – and thanks to them, the Western European market has registered its second successive quarter of growth for Q2 ended 30 June, judging by its first two months.
Context Market Intelligence said overall volumes in the quarter rose 13 per cent across the region thanks to corporations spending on PCs. Broken down, notebooks were up by 15 per cent, desktops by 8 per cent and workstation sales were 18 per cent higher than a year ago.
The growth in business buying should continue throughout 2018, Context predicted, but maybe not by double digits.
Context's senior analyst Marie-Christine Pygott cautioned against reading too much into the year-on-year trend generally. That's because the trading periods for this and last year were different with Easter falling earlier in 2018, and because the component pain has largely dissipated.
"April last year was a very weak comparison [period]. Having said that, we do see genuine PC growth as well driven by Windows 10 refreshes."
UK saw PC volumes rise 21 per cent, with even higher growth in Netherlands, Portugal and Ireland. In powerhouse Germany, PC volumes rose 16.8 per cent. France was the only one of the top 13 markets surveyed where overall volumes fell.
The GDPR deadline was also cited as a reason to upgrade ageing PC stock, Pygott said, and strong design in the premium segment helped growth in commercial sales.
Despite growth in sales of Chromebooks, ultra-thin laptops and gaming PCs, consumer PC sales slipped 3 per cent across Europe.
Small-factor PCs that strap on to the back of the monitor are increasingly appealing but premium notebooks aren't where the mass market is in consumer retail, the analyst reminded us, and increasingly consumers are doing tasks like email on their phones, not PCs. ®