Notebooks remained the key drivers behind PC unit sales growth in UK distribution in early 2010, with notebook volumes up 10 per cent in January and 13 per cent in February compared to the same period the year before, according to our latest data.
Although sales in the desktop segment recovered somewhat from the bleak conditions in 2009, and grew at four per cent in February versus the prior-year period, desktop volume growth in early 2010 lagged behind notebook growth.
As a result, notebook unit share in UK distribution continued to widen in February, with notebooks accounting for 78 per cent of PC sales during the period and desktops for 22 per cent of sales.
Stable unit growth performance in the notebook segment, reached during the second half of 2009 and carried over into 2010, is good news. During a year characterised by tough economic conditions, the ensuing near standstill in corporate IT investment, and a strong decline in consumer buying power, the continuous demand for portable systems has been one of the few reliable parameters for many IT vendors.
However, the notebook picture is somewhat less rosy across UK distribution from a revenue perspective. Much of the notebook growth registered during 2009 was generated at the low end of the pricing spectrum, a situation that did not change during the first two months of 2010.
Notebook growth in 2009, and in early 2010, was driven primarily by cheap netbooks, a form factor that sold better than expected during 2009 for a number of reasons.
Prices strong focus
Consumers were forced to focus strongly on price in times of adverse economic conditions. Also, the variety of netbooks offered increased steadily as more and more vendors jumped on the bandwagon following Asus’ successful launch of low-priced netbooks in 2008.
Furthermore, netbook systems were successfully pushed into the consumer segment through alternative routes to market, such as the telco channel.
As a result, netbooks continually increased their share of the notebook market during the year, bringing down average selling prices (ASPs) and increasing pressure on pricing for low-end mainstream notebooks.
In 2009, notebooks in UK distribution sold at an ASP of £338, down nine per cent from 2008’s ASP of £371. In February 2010, notebook ASPs in UK distribution went down six per cent year-on-year, from £336 in February 2009 to £318 this year.
Clearly, while increased sales partly offset the effects of ASP declines, the growing influence of cheap netbooks meant that revenue growth from notebooks in UK distribution continually lagged behind unit growth during 2009, and in 2010 to date.
In February 2010, while unit growth enjoyed a sequential improvement on January, with notebook volumes up 10 per cent in January and 13 per cent in February from the prior-year periods, notebook revenue trended in the opposite direction.
In local currency, revenue from notebooks in UK distribution was up nine per cent in January 2010 from last year, but only seven per cent year-on-year in February.
Marie-Christine Pygott is a senior research analyst at Context
Watford-based Hills Components ceased trading last month and its current inventory will be auctioned off
Robots, predictive analytics and selling without a salesforce: Where the UK's leading MSPs think the market is heading
MSP bosses to share their thoughts on the future of the managed services market
Distributor on course to hit £20m revenue this year
In an interview with CRN, Wendy Mars says Cisco and its partners are no longer having to arm-twist customers on the need for digital transformation