December 2010 saw adverse weather conditions affect the IT market and the UK economy as a whole. With heavy snow falling not once but twice, many consumers stayed away from the high street until the very last minute.
Online retailing was expected to peak this Christmas but was also slow as shoppers hesitated for fear that deliveries wouldn’t be made in time. That market shrank 0.7 per cent from November.
Desktops and notebooks comprised 70 per cent of the IT market’s value in 2010 but remained relatively flat against 2009. Netbooks, which actually saw volume and value growth of 10 per cent in 2010, saw a slump of 11 per cent by volume, and 14 per cent by value year on year in Q4.
There was a slender increase in notebook sales, especially on the value side, with the average selling price (ASP) rising from £437 in December 2009 to £479 in December 2010.
Another entrant in this side of the market is the web books category -- a segment defined by GfK as a device with a screen of greater than 5.5in, mobile-like CPU architecture, mobile-like and apps-oriented, and with optional 3G or 4G connectivity.
With month-on-month sales surging throughout Q4, it will be interesting to see how this category develops in the coming months, and the impact it might have on netbooks -- given that both categories offer portability as their key selling point.
GfK defines netbooks as devices having a screen size greater than nine inches, essentially a complete OS, Atom or similar CPU, and optional 3G or 4G.
The peripherals market, on the other hand, which includes storage, PC speakers, headsets and multi-disc drives, saw fair growth in both volume and value terms in Q4 2010. The overall storage market was up two per cent by volume and nine per cent by value through 2010.
However, December 2010 was 42 per cent up in volume and 25 per cent higher in value terms for the portable (2.5in) external storage drives, in comparison to December 2009. That category of hard drives now comprises more than half the market, and there sales of media-ready storage devices are still growing to fulfil the interactivity needs of the latest generation of consumers.
With more consumers opting for portable yet high capacity (500GB and 1TB+) drives, this side of the market will continue to do well for the foreseeable future and remain a crucial part of the IT market.
Together with external storage, the software market also grew throughout 2010, with volumes up two per cent and value up five per cent. The netbook security software segment has improved in line with netbook hardware sales and is fast becoming important in the security market.
Another key development in Q4 was the growth in projector sales. After a long period of both volume and value decline, Q4 saw that market grow 6.7 per cent, compared with the same period the year before.
The key segment within this product category was portable projectors -- consisting of mini LED and pico projectors. Traditionally, business channels dominated the projectors market, but consumer channels are becoming increasingly important with more manufacturers starting to cater to them as well.
As new technologies start to dominate in consumer electronics, they have also been affecting the projector market specifically. HD, 3D and LED projectors are now becoming increasingly influential.
Overall, the IT market saw a tough end to the year, which will undoubtedly be carried into 2011. But there are still positives to take away; for example, that new developments and supporting technologies can still perform well even in the most difficult of times.
Mehryar Hamid is an IT account executive at GfK
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