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Cold winds blow through the PC market in Q3

The wait for the Windows 10 effect continues as the numbers from Context and IDC show that it was another weak quarter for PCs in Q3

There are several reasons why the last quarter was a poor one for the PC market across EMEA but most of them will be all too familiar with resellers trying to battle inventory and currency issues.

Fairly early on this year it became clear that the recovery in the market that had been a feature of 2014 was not going to be maintained as the driver to replace Windows XP had been largely exhausted.

The hope that Windows 10 would spark some spending still remains but is something that most observers are pencilling in as a positive factor for next year.

In the meantime the PC market has continued to produce declines with all of the analyst houses picking up on the latest trends.

IDC and Context have supplied a picture of what happened in the third quarter with the European market as a whole suffering a decline.

The Western European market saw a 18.4% decline in Q3, according to IDC. The UK was slightly better than that with just a 11.1% decline in PC shipments.

One of the problems for the channel were the moves by some vendors to clear inventory of older products ahead of the launch of the Windows 10 machines. Currency fluctuations also played a part with the latest models coming with higher prices as a result.

"The third quarter trends in the EMEA PC market turned out to be very similar to the second quarter," said Maciek Gornicki, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing.

"Bringing inventory levels under control has proven to be very challenging but there has been clear progress and this should facilitate new shipments in the coming quarter. Moreover, some countries in the region continued to suffer from currency volatility and political instability, which have now been constraining IT spending for several quarters, Said Gornicki.

Figures from Context also highlighted the turnaround in a market that in the third quarter last year had enjoyed a 22% year-on-year rise fuelled by the XP migration demand and low-end Bing based notebooks.

With both the XP migration over and the Bing promotion at an end this year saw a 3.3% decline of the notebooks, desktops and PC workstations that were sold through distribution across Western Europe.

Not everyone saw a decline and the UK did better than most of its European contemporaries with distribution reporting fairly decent trading conditions.

“The UK, less affected than the eurozone countries by currency issues over the past few quarters, posted a +11.2% year-on-year growth in PC sales through distributors”, said Marie-Christine Pygott, Senior Analyst at Context. 

The analyst house also noted that there has been a real effort by vendors to reduce inventory during the quarter.​

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There are simply too many options in a widely, wildly diverse market with the myriad screens all vying for attention. For most, phones are perfectly good stand-ins for sending email or checking a brief. Phablets are even easier for reading (though my personal jury is still out on using them as phones).

There's an even bigger terror stalking this market. We're in a cycle of evolutionary changes with every upgrade. Nice updates - a bit bigger, better, faster - but nothing revolutionary. The first iPhone was a miracle, now it's a perfectly nice device in a very crowded field.

I suspect some company will eventually break through that clutter with a truly revolutionary device. Then sales will perk way up again. (If I knew what that was, I sure wouldn't be here typing....) Until then, I'm perfectly happy with last year's model.
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