Gartner has questioned whether the UK PC market "will ever return to solid growth", after sales in both the consumer and B2B markets took a battering in Q2.
For the three months to the end of June, UK PC shipments declined 7.6 per cent year on year to 2.5 million. Across the entire western European market, volumes fell 2.4 per cent to 13.6 million, with Germany posting a 6.5 per cent decline and France managing growth of 0.7 per cent.
The analyst reports that, with the market contracting, the leading vendor triumvirate of HP, Dell and Acer were forced to act to protect their margins and avoided price promotions. The top three manufacturers lost a cumulative four points-plus of market share during the quarter.
Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, said: "The UK PC market remained very weak in the second quarter of 2012. It was depressed across the board, with both the consumer and professional sectors exhibiting decline.
"The real worry for the UK PC market is whether it will ever return to solid growth. Windows 8 and Ultrabooks now look even more important. However, messages emerging from the PC supply chain remain inconsistent and largely uninspiring. This has resulted in the PC channel holding back on new shipment orders until the fourth quarter of 2012."
Principal analyst Meike Escherich explained that a surfeit of ageing stock in the channel may need to be sold at painfully reduced prices next month prior to the upcoming launch of Microsoft's latest operating system.
"Consumer spending on PCs has been stalled by the ongoing economic uncertainty. 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," he said.
"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."
The UK's leading vendor in Q2 was HP, despite seeing shipments decline 11.7 per cent to 468,000, giving the US giant a market share of 18.5 per cent.
Dell, in second place, has seen 2.5 points wiped off its market share in the past 12 months and now holds a 12.4 per cent slice of the UK market. The Texan firm endured a shipment decline of 23.2 per cent in Q2, with volumes of 313,000. Third-placed Acer shipped 293,000 units during the quarter, 14 per cent down on the corresponding period last year.
Toshiba, in fourth, was the quarter's big winner, with shipments rocketing 51.6 per cent year on year to 238,000. The Japanese electronics titan has seen its UK market share grow from 5.7 to 9.4 per cent since Q2 2011.
Apple, in fifth, continues to perform solidly, after boosting its number of units shipped 10 per cent to 187,000, with market share rising 1.2 points to 7.4 per cent.
Across the entire western Europe region HP again holds the lead, although a shipment decline of 13 per cent has seen it lose ground. Second-placed Acer and Asus, in third, posted second-quarter growth of 15.3 and 42.8 per cent and now account for 17.3 and 10.7 per cent of the market respectively.
Dell has slipped to fourth, after shipments declined 13.6 per cent and market share dropped more than a point year on year to 8.7 per cent. Lenovo rounds out the top five, having swelled shipments 10 per cent, resulting in market share growing almost a point to 7.8 per cent.
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