2015 has been branded a "costly year" for the EMEA channel after resellers spent 11 of its 12 months struggling to clear old stock and sales volumes shrank by nearly a fifth.
Acer was the biggest loser as total shipments across the region fell 18.2 per cent to 76.3 million units, according to market watcher IDC.
The top four players – HP, Lenovo, Dell and ASUS – all suffered double-digit declines, while fifth-placed Acer's shipments plunged by 31 per cent.
IDC said the focus of hardware manufacturers and their channel partners last year had been to deplete old stock after the Windows XP effect and Microsoft's Bing promotion from summer 2014 to January 2015 ground to a halt.
"The strengthening of the US dollar also led partners to gamble on cheap products in the fourth quarter of 2014," IDC said.
"But 2015 turned into a very costly year for all of them as inventory clearing not only took 11 months but also [resulted in] strong promotions and price reductions."
The introduction of new PC technologies including Windows 10 and new CPUs – namely Intel Skylake – failed to breathe life into the market, IDC said, before adding that there are some signs of "stabilisation" in the air.
"The market contraction was to be expected," said Chrystelle Labesque, associate director at IDC EMEA Personal Computing. "However, if you take Bing out of the comparison, the consumer market would end the year flat, which is an encouraging sign of stabilisation."
Acer's soft performance was due partly to an unfavourable year-on-year comparison, IDC said, adding that the Taiwanese vendor focused on inventory reduction while gaining traction on its Windows 10 products during the year.
Lenovo was another vendor forced to focus on inventory depletion and its shipments dropped 10.6 per cent, IDC said.
Despite this, Lenovo actually gained on market leader HP – which IDC said had an above-par year due to strong desktop sales – and less than four points of market share now separate the duo (HP is on 23.5 per cent and Lenovo is on 19.9 per cent).
Third-placed Dell saw shipments fall 11.6 per cent and fourth-placed ASUS was down 12.4 per cent. Acer rounded out the top five.
IDC noted that the PC market consolidation talked up by the likes of Michael Dell had become more apparent in EMEA in 2015, with the top three (HP, Lenovo and Dell) increasing their collective share from 50 per cent to 54 per cent.
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