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Convertibles are the PC winners

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According to the latest figures published by International Data Corporation (IDC), Western European shipments of ultraslim convertibles and detachables posted positive growth (44,7%) to account for 18,4% of total consumer shipments and 21,9% of commercial devices in 16Q1, up from 9,2% and 16,3% respectively a year ago.
This trend is even more significant in the context of a contracting market.
The Western European PC and tablet market contracted by 13,7% year on year in the first quarter, with total shipments reaching 18,2-million units. The decline was softer in the commercial segment, where the drop in shipments remained in single digits (-5,2% YoY), while consumer demand fell by 18,6% year on year.
Detachable shipments grew 190,4% on a year on year basis in Western Europe, from about 500 000 to 1,5-million units over the course of a year. On the PC side, despite a 12,9% decline in PCs in Western Europe, convertible notebooks grew by 12%, driven by consumer demand.
In the consumer tablet market, the detachable form factor continues to gain popularity, with shipments increasing almost fourfold from the same quarter last year, to just below 1-million units.
The performance seen in the convertible and detachable sectors highlights that purchases are driven by the need for portable, mobile, and functional solutions, and that despite the challenging market situation, these form factors have significant growth potential.
The market uptake has been limited so far but with more choices in terms of brand and price point, a growing number of end users are being won over by the new value proposition.
“Customers are looking for solutions that allow for flexibility,” says Andrea Minonne, research analyst at IDC EMEA Personal Computing. “We want to access information, create content, or communicate without constraints. Addressing such market demand represents an opportunity for IT vendors.
“Convertible notebooks and detachables are the most suitable device to guarantee functionality and mobility at the same time. Both form factors have been well received in the market and have gained momentum across Western Europe.
“Interestingly, growth in convertible notebooks and detachables in the first quarter of 2016 was above average in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.”
Detachables’ penetration continues to increase among both enterprises and professionals, with half a million devices shipped in the first quarter of the year (up 92,9% year on year).
“Adoption among business users is only just starting,” says Marta Fiorentini, research manager at IDC EMEA Personal Computing. “We expect an acceleration in detachable deployments in the coming months as companies evaluate the new and more powerful commercial designs that have recently been introduced.
“Interest from enterprises is clear and this form factor seems to be a perfect fit with their mobility strategies. In some countries, we also see detachable deployments taking place in the public sector, which is usually more traditional in its form factor choices and often challenged by budget constraints.”
This trend is reflected in the evolution of the different ecosystems and consequently OS. In terms of OS dynamics, Windows continues to account for over half of the combined PC and tablet market — strengthening its overall position due to the success of Microsoft’s detachable devices and increasing ODM designs for this form factor, which have increased its tablet market share to 13%.
As for PCs, Windows continues to dominate the market but performed slightly below average in the first quarter of the year — despite strong awareness of Windows 10, consumers have been slow to upgrade their hardware, while in the commercial segment most users have only recently renewed their old XP machines.
Android/Chrome OS ranks second with Android maintaining its dominance in the tablet market (over 60%), despite declining annual volumes due to market saturation and weak consumer demand. Chrome OS is still a marginal operating system in volume terms, but it is slowly gaining some ground in certain geographies and in education in particular.
Apple continues to play a significant role in the market, especially in the premium segment. The new 9,7-inch iPad Pro only started to ship in the last few days of the quarter, so has not yet had a major impact on iOS shipments in the first quarter, though it should boost the outlook for the rest of year.
In the PC market, OS X continued to grow its market share from last year, supported by the continued success of the MacBook Pro line. Moreover, the new MacBook launch in April will sustain portable shipments for the rest of the year.
Overall, the large installed base of Apple devices in Europe, combined with an extensive number of applications, makes OS X/iOS users among the most attractive for companies like SAP, which recently signed a partnership agreement with Apple.
The “others” group includes Linux and Ubuntu OS — the latter brought into the tablet market with devices from Spanish vendor BQ.