Windows 10 transition props up business box revenues in Western Europe

Intel's Grinch that stole Christmas might make for a softer end to the year

The ongoing transition to Windows 10 by corporates offset weak consumer demand to keep PC sales ticking over with a modest 3 per cent increase over this time last year, according to figures released by channel box-counters Context.

While Germany bought the most gear in the first two months of Q3 (665,548 notebooks and desktops), it was Sweden that sent eyebrows skywards as the Scandinavian purveyor of flatpack furniture recorded a staggering 22.4 per cent of volume growth, year-on-year.

To put that in context, the next largest growth was recorded by Spain, which managed a comparatively paltry 7.7 per cent from 2017's figures.

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context, explained to The Register that the Swedish bonanza was driven mainly by the march of Chromebooks into the educational sector as a new teaching curriculum arrived for the Autumn.

A whopping 37 per cent of laptops (which does not include tablets) sold in Sweden were Chromebooks, up from 22 per cent for the first two months of Q3 2017. The only country that came close to the 50,306 low-margin laptops snapped up in Sweden was the UK, which bought 48,328 (or about 10 per cent of total shipments).

Google's laptops have succeeded in educational markets across Western Europe following impressive growth in the US thanks to keen pricing and simple manageability. However, according to Context, some countries such as Germany are less than keen on the things.

France showed a heart-stopping 12.2 per cent decline in sales, but of course there's a story behind the figures. Consumer demand is weak when compared to businesses mostly transitioning to Windows 10. For France, the picture is particularly driven, according to Context, by excess hardware gathering dust on shelves. Consumer demand has plummeted by 27.2 per cent, down to 93,239 units while commercial buying has stayed relatively flat, seeing a drop of just 0.8 per cent.

Outliers aside, the big purchasers, Germany and the UK, registered growth of 2.4 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively over the same period in 2017. Business again offset soft consumer demand, with German business increasing its volume by 3.7 per cent while the UK registered 10 per cent.

Drooping consumer demand was also offset by back-to-school shoppers who, over the whole of Western Europe, propped up the sector. Q2 2018 saw a 10 per cent fall from 2017 while Q3 has only seen a 1 per cent drop overall.

Average selling price (ASP) continued to creep up, now standing at €573, up 2 per cent, and revenues rose 5 per cent. In the UK, the average prices were £472.34 and £466.33 for notebooks and desktops respectively. Workstation-class machinery was quite a bit more, hovering at £1,138.23 and £938.76 respectively. While Germans enjoy slightly cheaper desktops, notebooks are somewhat pricier, clocking in at €631.88 for the vanilla variety and €1,541.40 for something a bit more exotic.

As for what the future holds, the transition to Windows 10 should keep businesses writing cheques well into 2019 although the continued growth of Chromebooks will alarm some in Redmond. In the short term, however, it could well be Intel's supply woes that upset the apple cart. Pygott reckoned Q4 may be below expectations, with consumers likely the hardest hit. ®


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