Europeans shun PCs as sales see worst ever fall

PERSONAL computer sales have plummeted in Western Europe, as Microsoft’s Windows 8 software has failed to capture customers’ imaginations and shoppers have turned to tablets such as Apple’s iPad.

Data from technology researchers Gartner showed that PC sales in the first quarter of 2013 were 12.3m – 20.5 per cent down on a year earlier.

The decline was far more pronounced than that for worldwide sales, which were down 11.2 per cent in the same period, according to Gartner. In the UK, sales fell 16 per cent to 2.5m, with laptops falling much faster than desktops.

“Many consumers no longer require a PC as usage of smartphones and tablets takes over,” Gartner’s Ranjit Atwal said. He said that laptop sales were down 22 per cent in the UK, while desktops fell 5.2 per cent, and that the decline was much more pronounced in the consumer space than for business purchases.

Although the UK market declined significantly, it was reasonably robust next to France, where PC sales fell by more than 25 per cent. Computer manufacturers such as Dell and HP have been counting on the success of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 software to drive better sales, but yesterday’s figures suggested that the effect had been muted. Windows 8 has introduced a new interface designed for tablets and touchscreen computers, but the software has been criticised as being un-intuitive and too much of a break from previous versions.

“Wide availability of Windows 8-based PCs could not boost consumer PC purchases during the quarter,” Meike Escherich, an analyst from Gartner said. “Although the new user interface suits new form factors, users wonder about its suitability for traditional PCs — non-touchscreen desktops and notebooks.”

Hewlett-Packard and Acer ­– the two top sellers in Western Europe – were the biggest losers, falling 31.7 per cent and 36.8 per cent respectively.