Even Windows 10 can't save the PC market as chip shortages, Brexit uncertainties bite

Consumers pinch pennies while Brit biz tries to get the budget spent before you-know-what

Tech analyst IDC said Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) PC market shipments slid in calendar Q4 due to shortages of a certain processor and turbulent politics.

Though its preliminary findings show a 5.8 per cent year-on-year drop in unit shipments compared to the same period in 2017, there were a few rays of hope.

According to IDC, 19.6 million units were sold into channel - distributors and retailers - but that decline was unevenly split, with the Windows 10 adoption wave restricting the commercial decline to 1.1 per cent. The consumer segment was hit hard, down 10.6 per cent as consumers stayed away from new hardware in their droves.

Western Europe, in particular, saw an overall decline of 4.7 per cent for the quarter: commercial sales actually grew 1.3 per cent but retail dragged things down, with a heavy decline of 11.5 per cent.

Liam Hall, senior research analyst at IDC, pointed to Intel's chip-making woes:

"The impact of the CPU shortage is really starting to be felt by major vendors, with available supplies restricting their capability to meet seasonal demand." Intel's prioritising of high-end silicon has led to a lack of low-end processors for PCs as supplies have dwindled.

Hall also highlighted uncertainties regarding the political landscape as a factor in consumers holding off on spending, with both Brexit and the Yellow Vest populist movement causing disquiet.

Interestingly, Brexit may be playing a part in the growth of commercial purchasing as enterprises look to spend budgets ahead of whatever may come of the UK and EU's negotiations.

As has become the norm, adopting mobile technology remained the thing, with notebooks and ultra-portables enjoying growth in the commercial space in spite of double-digit declines for consumers.

Hall told The Register that 1.8 million notebook computers and 600,000 desktops were shipped in the UK with enterprises seeing particularly strong growth at a bonzer 9.2 per cent year on year. HP, Lenovo and Dell (in that order) were the main beneficiaries.

UK consumers have, however, followed the rest of Europe with shipments declining 10.9 per cent.

The news across the whole of EMEA was less cheery for market kingpin HP, which saw an overall decline of 6.8 per cent in the region as its shipments dropped from 5.9 million to 5.5 million. HP still commanded the lion's share of the market at 28 per cent.

Dell, on the other hand, added another 5.8 per cent to its year-on-year shipments, flinging out 2.7 million units in the last quarter of 2018 compared to 2.5 million for the same period in 2017. Dell grew its market share to 13.6 per cent, behind HP and Lenovo.

Apple also saw a drop in its shipments, with a decline of 3.9 per cent for the region. This was slower than the market average, however, meaning Apple was still able to grow its market share to 7.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018 from 7.6 per cent in the same period in 2017.

Apple's figures, of course, do not include the sale of the iPad or iPad Pro. Indeed, while IDC counts convertibles in its PC figures, anything which has a removable keyboard is considered a tablet. Meaning that, yes, Microsoft's Surface Pro and Go lines will also not be troubling this particular set of figures. ®

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