The personal computer business is in a poor state worldwide, and the Africa and Middle East region has not been shielded from the slump.
The latest data from research firm International Data Corp (IDC) shows that PC shipments in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey declined by 14,3% year on year during the fourth quarter of 2014, to 4,5m units.
Shipments of portable PCs declined at a rate of 18,2% to 2,7m units, while desktop shipments declined by 7,8% to 1,8m units. What’s to blame? Easy – the shift by consumers from traditional PCs to lighter and more portable form factors like tablets and smartphones.
“The shift from desktops to portable PCs and from portable PCs to tablets and smartphones continues apace,” says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, research manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey, in a statement. “Furthermore, even within the portable PC segment, there is a notable shift underway from traditional notebooks to convertible notebooks and ultra-slim notebooks.”
Wider product offerings and growing competition within the ultra-slim notebook and convertible notebook range has also caused the price of these devices to decline gradually, contributing to the growth in their demand, says the IDC. However, the absence of an optical disc drive in most ultra-slim notebook models is seen as an obstacle for the product category’s growth.
“The share of PCs with touch interface also continues to grow, especially within the consumer segment,” says Charakla. “A major contributory factor to this is that Microsoft’s latest operating system [Windows 8/8.1] requires a device with a touch interface to enable end users to reap the best possible user experience.”
The weak rand and high unemployment negatively affected demand for PCs in South Africa, according to the research firm.
Hewlett-Packard continued to lead the regional PC market during the final quarter of 2013. Despite experiencing a significant decline in shipments year on year, the company was able to maintain its market share in the region.
“One of HP’s main strengths is its presence in Africa, where it consistently performs far better than any other multinational PC vendor,” says the IDC. “A large education deal in South Africa and a number of other corporate deals secured across the region also buoyed the vendor’s performance during the quarter.”
Lenovo once again attained the highest year-on-year growth rate of all the top PC vendors and climbed to the number two position in the region. Dell, Toshiba, and Acer all experienced year-on-year declines to rank third, fourth and fifth respectively. Samsung’s revised strategy, which caused the vendor to divert its focus away from the volume business of notebooks, resulted in it drastically losing share across the region and dropping several positions in terms of ranking.
The IDC expects the Middle East and Africa PC market to experience a slight decline for the year 2014. The decline will result from weaker demand for desktops, with portable PC shipments expected to remain almost flat year on year.
Some countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Egypt, are expected to undergo some form of recovery in 2014 after experiencing varying degrees of instability during 2013. This recovery will either help these countries attain some growth in PC shipments or at least reduce the pace of the decline. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media