PC shipments decline in Middle East and Africa in Q4 2012

The Middle East and Africa PC market declined by a narrow margin of 0.6 per cent year on year during the final quarter of 2012, according to preliminary results released today by International Data Corporation (IDC), the premier global market intelligence and advisory firm for the information technology and telecommunications markets.

With a total of 5.3 million units shipped into the region during the quarter, IDC says that desktop shipments slowed 3.7 per cent year on year to total 2 million units, while portable PC shipments grew 1.3 per cent to reach 3.3 million units.

The ongoing shift towards mobility in both the consumer and commercial segments has continued to dampen the demand for desktops. Despite the ongoing efforts of certain multinational vendors to penetrate the consumer desktop market by launching new devices such as ‘All-in-Ones’, the desktop form factor experienced a slowdown in demand from the consumer segment. And while overall commercial demand in the region for PCs slowed down year on year, a massive notebook deal was delivered into Pakistan's education sector.

At the same time, the growing popularity of tablets has continued to slow the growth in demand for portable PCs in the region, with Q4 2012 comfortably reporting the lowest year-on-year growth rate of any quarter in 2012. “A growing portion of home users are gaining confidence in tablet usage, further prolonging the refreshment cycle for portable PCs," says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, a research manager at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

“Meanwhile, the failure of the ultra-slim notebook category to swiftly gain momentum as a result of prevailing high prices has combined with a soft response from the market to Microsoft’s newly launched Windows 8 operating system to further compound the slowdown." As forecast, mini-notebook shipments have also continued to decline at a fast pace in the region, with the availability of lower-priced tablets cannibalizing their demand.

Looking at the region's key markets, both the UAE and Saudi Arabia experienced an annual decline in PC shipments, with the latter experiencing a sharper decline. The migration in consumer demand from portable PCs towards tablets was the primary cause of the slowdown in shipments to these countries. Meanwhile, a bleak economic outlook and declining disposable income slowed PC demand in South Africa. Turkey was the only big market in the region to attain strong growth, as vendors aggressively shipped into the country. This caused PC inventory levels among Turkey channels to rise significantly, enabling Turkey to reacquire its position as the biggest PC market in the region.

After suffering a drastic slowdown in shipments during the third quarter of 2012, HP struck back with shipment growth of 32.7 per cent year on year to total of 1.1 million units for Q4 2012. Backed by growing demand from both the commercial and consumer segments, the vendor continued to lead the Middle East and Africa PC market in terms of market share. Despite suffering a steep decline of 26.6 per cent year on year, Dell held on to its second-placed ranking in the market.

Lenovo posted a strong year-on-year growth rate for the fourth consecutive quarter, expanding its shipments into the region by 51.2 per cent year on year and laying claim to third position in the Middle East and Africa PC market. And while Acer suffered a decline of 3.2 per cent year on year, it still managed to climb up a position during the quarter, coming in at number four; the vendor continued to lose traction in the commercial segment, while gaining some momentum in the consumer space. Toshiba’s high volume of shipments into the region during the third quarter of 2012 caused the vendor to experience a 1.6 per cent year-on-year dip in Q4 2012 and slip down to fifth position. As with Acer, Toshiba’s strength lies predominantly within the consumer segment.