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Demand from the commercial market has largely saved the PC world from what would have otherwise been another difficult year in 2017 and it managed to end much as it had started, on a solid note.
Drilling down into the performance in Q4, Context, the analyst house that gets its numbers directly from distributors, found that across Western Europe in the last quarter the volumes were down but the revenues continued to climb from sales into the enterprise PC market.
The increase in prices has been a feature of the market thanks to exchange rates and component costs and the 6% increase in revenues managed to offset the 6% decline in unit sales. prices of commercial PCs were up by 12% compared to the same period in the previous year.
The UK was one of the best performing countries across Western Europe with year-on-year revenue growth coming in a 13.2%. Only Poland saw a higher rate. Sweden was the worst performer with a 4.8% decline.
Although some of the price increases are out of the control of the industry there has been a shift by some customers to consciously choose a top-end product to ensure they get better performance. There was a 10% increase in ultra-slim portables and a 9% climb in demand for notebook workstations.
Those factors are not going to change anytime soon with customers deciding that if they are going to buy hardware then they should opt for something decent.
“Looking forward, PC pricing and revenues in the commercial segment are expected to continue to benefit from the shift in demand to higher-end products as users maintain their focus on high quality, high performance and, often, high portability”, said Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context.
The other factor in the ongoing momentum in the commercial PC market is the increasing uptake of Windows 10 and that is also a continuing trend going deeper into 2018.
Amy Hood, executive vice president and CFO at Microsoft, touched on the continued demand for the firm's latest operating system in an analyst call following the announcement of its Q2 numbers.
She said that there had been "a stronger than anticipated commercial PC market bolstered by improved macro conditions and continued healthy enterprise Windows 10 deployments".
Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, added that against the background of Meltdown and Spectre it had also seen some benefits of having invested in security.
"Our investments to make Windows 10 the most secure, always up-to-date operating system enabled us to move quickly to protect customers in the face of these threats," he said.