Our statistics show that desktop unit sales in UK distribution were down 23 per cent year-on-year in Q2, 12 per cent year-on-year in Q3, and seven per cent year-on-year in Q4. For the whole of 2009, consolidated desktop volume sales in UK distribution were down 12 per cent versus 2008, compared to a 25 per cent increase in PC notebook unit sales during the period.
However, it is not all bad news in the segment. During the second half of 2009, while remaining negative, quarterly year-on-year desktop unit growth rates in UK distribution improved consistently as the year progressed.
And our latest figures on the January performance of PC desktops in UK distribution demonstrate that the segment continued to recover in the new year. Although PC desktop volume sales still declined year-on-year in January, they were up an impressive 26 per cent in UK distribution in January, relative to December.
And while the sequential upturn in volume sales in January is certainly positive in itself, it also indicates a slow but healthy return to traditional seasonal patterns and with that, a return to more predictability and stability for industry players.
A look at the user segments accounting for the recent upturn in PC desktop sales reveals that sequential growth in January was entirely driven by business-targeted Desktop systems sold through value channels – indicating that despite the weaker-than-expected overall economic growth in the UK towards the end of 2009, business demand has finally begun to take a turn for the better.
Sales of business-targeted desktops through value channels rose 45 per cent in January compared with December, an all-time high when compared to monthly 2H09 sequential growth rates, and a figure by far outstripping the 13 per cent sequential rise in unit sales reached one year ago, in January 2009.
The vendor most strongly driving PC desktop sales in January was HP. By far the dominant desktop vendor in UK distribution, with a consolidated 2009 share of 65 per cent, HP clearly used the cautious uptake in business demand and grew its business-targeted desktop sales through value channels 53 per cent in January, compared with December, resulting in a consolidated desktop volume growth for HP of 36 per cent during the period.
HP systems also accounted for all top five desktop products sold in UK distribution in January. Other vendors that took advantage of improving conditions include Fujitsu and Lenovo, which grew their respective consolidated PC desktop sales by 46 per cent and 17 per cent month-on-month in January, albeit from relatively small bases.
PC desktop sales in the business segment are expected to slowly continue their recovery in the course of 2010 with improving economic conditions, a gradual return of enterprise demand, and the business take-up, particularly in the second half, of Windows 7.
Marie-Christine Pygott is a senior research analyst at Context
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