“Significant” price cuts as PC shipments stall

PC shipments continue to struggle, leading analysts to predict “significant” price cuts next month.

According to Gartner figures, UK PC shipments were down 7.6% in the second quarter from last year, while shipments were down 2.4% across Western Europe.

“If demand, especially from consumers, remains weak there might be some old stock left in the channels ahead of the Windows 8 launch in October,” said Meike Escherich. “This could lead to significant price cuts in September, and challenges may arise in selling new products into the channel in the third quarter of 2012.”

In the UK, the top three PC makers – HP, Dell and Acer – struggled. “As a result, the top three had to hold back on price promotions,” Gartner said. “Collectively, the top three lost more than four percentage points of market share, with all three showing double-digit-percentage declines in shipments.”

However, Toshiba rebounded after a tough 2011, posting 51% growth – and Apple continued to post solid sales, up 10%.

UK PC shipments were down for both consumer and business devices. While shipments don’t directly correlate with sales, retailers hold back on ordering new PCs when stock stays on shelves.

Analysts had said the market would likely slow down before the arrival of Windows 8, and Gartner said Microsoft’s next generation OS was key to boosting sales – if they can be improved.

“The real worry for the UK PC market is whether it will ever return to solid growth,” said analyst Ranjit Atwal. “Windows 8 and Ultrabooks now look even more important.

“However, messages emerging from the PC supply chain remain inconsistent and largely uninspiring,” he added. “This has resulted in the PC channel holding back on new shipment orders until the fourth quarter of 2012.”

European sales

Across Western Europe, PC shipments slid 2.4%: while desktops fell 12.8%, laptops grew 4%, Gartner said. The enterprise market dropped by 12.8%, but consumer sales were mostly flat.

Dell slid into fourth spot in Western Europe, as the firm remakes itself into an IT company. “Its transformation from a PC supplier to a solution provider for professional markets is ongoing and has yet to result in an increase in market share,” Gartner said.

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