European PC market fell in the first quarter of 2011

PC shipments in Western Europe slid in the first quarter of 2011 according to the latest research from Gartner.

In its report the analyst company said that although first quarter 2011 shipments came  to 14.7 million units, this was a fall of 17.8 percent from the same period in 2010.

The reason for this sharp fall was due to excess inventory accumulated at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010 in many countries in Western Europe.

It pointed out that the excess inventory was reduced only slightly, as demand came to a standstill. This, plus the fact that seasonal growth was also weaker than expected added to the decline.

We’re also guilty of driving down the demand, shunning PCs in favour of tablets. As a result of us flashing less cash, PC shipments in the consumer market fell 25 percent year-on-year. This was especially noticeable in the mini-notebook segment, which was hit the worst.

Despite the decline, HP managed to stay in top spot when it came to mobile PCs. The same success didn’t however touch Acer and Dell, with these companies facing lower than average shipment performances.

Acer faced high levels of inventory from the previous quarter and Dell recorded slow demand across all segments.

Asus was also hit by the declining demand for mini-notebooks, while Toshiba was kicked off its number five spot in favour of Apple which was, surprise, surprise, the  only one among the top five vendors to increase shipments, with volumes for mobile PCs growing 32 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

Over in Blighty we saw shipments totalling 2.7 million units in the first quarter of 2011, a decline of 17.5 percent compared with the same period in 2010.

In fact, the UK market was dismal, exhibiting the worst decline of the three major countries in Western Europe in this period.

Gartner blamed this on a “shift away from mini-notebooks by the PC channel.” It said the last time the UK PC market recorded sustained decline was over four consecutive quarters in 2001/2002.

However, the fall didn’t seem to touch Apple, which again wormed its way into the top five vendors, knocking out Samsung on the way. Once again, it was the only company that recorded growth, while the likes of Dell, Acer and HP struggled.

However, over in France, Jobs’ lot were kept out of the top five by the likes of top dog HP, which replaced Acer. This however, was the only good news to hit the country with it too seeing a decline of 15.5 percent in total shipments for the first quarter of 2011 compared to the same time last year.

The consumer market in France also fell 22.9 percent as consumers continued to delay their purchase or turn to other products such as media tablets. The market was also hit by a slowdown of mini-notebook shipments in the first quarter of 2011. In fact retailers were so worried about these shortages they even cancelled orders.

In the first quarter of 2011, the mobile PC market accounted for 66 percent of total PC shipments in France, with mobile PC shipments declining 19.5 percent. Desk-based PCs declined 6.3 percent year-on-year.

Germany also suffered at the hands of the tablet market seeing its first double digit decline in PC shipments since 2001. The 2.8 million units in the first quarter of 2011 saw a decrease of 16.5 percent compared with the same period in 2010.

The country also suffered from excess inventory accumulated at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010 which was reduced only slowly in January and February with Gartner also pointing out that there was only a small number of finished Sandy Bridge products that entered the market in March.

Apple was again however kept out of the vendor charts by the likes of Samsung and Asus, which “exhibited growth despite the stagnation in the mini-notebook market”, while HP remained the leading professional and desktop PC vendor.