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PCs on the decline, last days of the mini-notebook — Gartner

The PC may not be about to disappear from the face of the earth, but if the latest data from renowned tech research agency Gartner is to believed, it is in decline — if only in Western Europe.

According to Gartner, PC shipments in Western Europe totalled 16.3-million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 16% decline from the equivalent period in 2010.

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Meike Escherich, principal analyst at Gartner reckons that the decline is largely due to the emergence of other personal computing technologies.

“Despite aggressive pricing and special holiday deals for PCs, consumers’ attention was caught by other devices, such as smartphones, media tablets and e-readers,” she said.

Another contributing factor to the PC downturn, says Escherich was a continued grim economic outlook for much of Europe.

Backing this kind of sentiment up is the fact that some of Eurozone countries worst hit by economic downturn also saw some of the sharpest decline in PC demand.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, the PC markets of Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain were particularly hard hit, with year-on-year PC demand declining 30% and more.

The United Kingdom and France, meanwhile, both experienced consecutive quarterly decline for the fifth and sixth time respectively.

The UK also experienced its sharpest decline in five financial quarters. Shipments in the UK PC market during the fourth quarter of 2011 totalled 2.9-million units, a decline of 19.6% compared with the equivalent period in 2010.

In case you’re thinking that desktop PCs have been the worst hit by the decline, think again. Mini-notebook shipments declined more than 50% in the fourth quarter of 2011. Gartner claims this indicates “the final stage in a shift away from these devices.”

Tough economic times in Europe have not only hit the personal PC market hard. “PC shipments in the professional segment declined 13.5% in the fourth quarter of 2011,” says Esherich.

The one brand that’s really been able to rise in the midst of all this is ASUS which, according to Escherich “has successfully shifted its portfolio from mini-notebooks to the mainstream and managed to outgrow the market”.

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