Notebooks remained the key drivers behind PC unit growth in UK distribution in April, according to our figures at Context. Notebook volume sales were up 30 per cent during the period when compared with last year. This was the highest monthly portable unit growth figure achieved in the region in 2010 to date.
Healthy growth within the notebook segment was down to a continuously strong performance in consumer-targeted systems, which saw their unit sales shoot up 97 per cent in April, compared to last year.
Clearly, lasting and healthy consumer demand is an asset in an economic climate such as the UK’s at present. In the UK currently, the economy is being characterised by a gradual recovery, coupled with a slow and cautious return to investment in business IT.
Constant consumer demand
During the past few months, the consistent demand coming from the consumer segment has also been one of the few reliable parameters on which IT players could base their growth strategies.
And there is more good news: while much of the notebook growth registered during 2009 and in early 2010 was generated at the low end of the pricing spectrum, pushed by the ever increasing number of netbooks being brought to market in the course of last year, we saw in the month of April this year a favourable, albeit cautious, shift in consumer notebook sales back towards mid-range mainstream systems.
While the £300-400 price band made up 26 per cent of consumer notebooks sold through UK distribution in March, this share leaped to 31 per cent in the month of April. Over the same period, although the sales growth had the advantage of coming from a much smaller base, consumer notebooks also registered a double-digit unit increase in sales of both the £500-600 and £700-900 price bands.
The increase in higher-level price band share was accompanied by a sequential decline in unit share in the £150-300 segment, which accounts for the vast majority of netbook sales. Accordingly, the share that netbooks took was down sequentially in the April quarter against the share that mainstream consumer notebooks took in UK distribution.
A shift away from price
The market has been moving away from its focus on price and towards value, and -- coupled with an overall increase in consolidated notebook sales -- this has proved highly beneficial to the revenue generation happening in this segment. In April, the consolidated 30 per cent year-on-year unit growth (representing combined consumer and business growth) translated into a healthy 23 per cent increase in revenues in UK distribution over the same period. Those figures are in local currency.
This positive trend is likely to continue for the remainder of 2010, I believe. Our work indicates that consumer demand is expected to remain strong, and business sales are likely to benefit from a continuous, albeit gradual pick-up of demand. On top of that, resellers will enjoy the increasing inclusion of Windows 7–based machines.
Marie-Christine Pygott is a senior research analyst at Context
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