July 29, 2022
Sales of both desktop and mobile computing through European distributors fell sharply in the second quarter.
Sales of mobile computing devices dropped by 15% and desktop PCs by 7% year-on-year. This is due to weakened demand, according to IT market intelligence company Context.
One reason for the drop in demand? The market is getting back to “normal” after high sales of mobile PCs at the start of the pandemic. High inflation and energy prices, and uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine, are also weighing on both businesses and consumers.
Revenues, however, were not so badly affected. These dropped only 4% for mobile computers and stayed flat for desktops. As in previous quarters, revenues benefitted from a rise in average sell prices resulting from price increases and changes in the product mix.
Context noted that supply challenges have improved a great deal since the start of the year. As such, demand is, in some cases, now more important than supply. In fact, in many countries there is excess stock — especially of computers aimed at consumers, education and entry-level business buyers.
“Given the current economic picture, distributors are having a hard time flushing this out,” it said.
This is despite aggressive price promotions.
“Although supply is improving, component shortages, COVID-related factory closures in Asia and container-ship jams are still causing problems for high-end commercial products,” the report states.
Focus on Notebooks
In the business segment, the general decline in notebook sales in Q2 improved towards the end of the quarter. While the situation varies by country, businesses are, on the whole, increasingly nervous about the economic picture. As such, they are trying to minimise the impact of cost increases on cash flow. That means upgrading of devices is being pushed down the priority list. This is especially true as businesses upgraded during the pandemic and many smaller businesses are still recovering from that crisis.
In the consumer market, the quarter has also been weak overall, even though a push at the end offset this to some extent. However, OECD figures suggest consumer confidence in the top five western European countries is now lower than it was at the start of 2020.
Chromebooks performed well last year at times when supply improved and education projects came through. Apple also had a strong end to 2021 and start of 2022, driven by the popularity of its M1-based products.
Distributor sales of both slid in Q2 — apart from the uptick at the end of the quarter. In Apple’s case, this is because of component availability issues due to Asian factory closures. It is also because it is shifting some of its business away from the channel and towards direct selling.
For Chrome, the steep decline is down to a dearth of the large-scale education projects that boosted sales last year in countries like the UK, Italy and Spain. Windows was, therefore, in a dominant position in Q2 with revenue not far below 2021 levels.
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