Consumer PC sales soft, commercial PC sales hard

It’s no secret that the PC isn’t doing too great right now, and that much has been reaffirmed by the latest numbers from European IT market research company Context which found that growth in volume sales of PCs (desktops, notebooks and workstations) across Western European distributors was affected by a soft consumer performance in the 2016 holiday season. It’s not all gloom and doom though as commercial sales continued to grow, according to latest data.

Breaking down the figures then, volume sales of consumer-targeted PCs through Western Europe’s largest distributors were down by by 7 per cent year-on-year in the final quarter of 2016, driving an overall drop of 2 per cent in consolidated PC sales. The consumer decline was seen across all product categories, but desktops, as per previous trends, saw the strongest drop at 16 per cent. Overall, the UK saw a volume growth of -7.2 per cent.

By contrast, commercial PC sales continued to grow and volume sell-through increased by 6 per cent when compared to last year. This was the case across the board, with sales of notebooks up 9 per cent, desktops 2 per cent, and workstations 1 per cent. Business-targeted detachables, tablets and 2-in-1s, including Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro, also remained in demand.

"In line with expectations, Windows 10 began to play a stronger role in the commercial segment in the fourth quarter of 2016", said Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context. "38 per cent of Windows Business PCs sold through Western European distributors during the quarter featured Windows 10 Pro compared to 22 per cent in the third quarter." 

One interesting point of note is that as the year-end quarter progressed, the share of Windows 10 Pro also increased significantly month-by-month. While in October only 27 per cent of Windows Business PCs came pre-installed with Microsoft’s latest operating system, the figure rose to 37 per cent in November and to 48 per cent by the end of the year.

Year-on-Year PC volume growth by top country:

Germany 5.3%
United Kingdom -7.2%
Italy – 7.0%
Spain -0.4%
France -0.3%
Netherlands -8.5%
Switzerland 3.6%
Sweden 0.5%
Austria 4.8%
Poland (not part of the WE figure) -18.2%

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