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Ultraslims, detachables drive PC growth

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Ultraslim notebooks and detachables posted positive results in the second quarter of 2016, growing 8,6% and 192,3% year on year, according to the latest results from International Data Corporation (IDC).
Approximately one in every five PCs shipped in Western Europe this quarter was an ultraslim notebook, while one in four tablets shipped was a detachable in both the consumer and commercial segments.
The results show good traction for these devices in spite of market challenges, as the penetration of both form factors continued to progress. In fact, the overall Western European personal computer device market continued to contract in 2016Q2, with PC and tablet shipments stabilizing at 17,2-million units (3,4% year on year decline).
If on one hand the PC market experienced a 1,6% year on year decline, on the other hand ultraslim notebooks performed very well. Ultraslims gained ground in 2016Q2 as their shipments represented 28,5% of overall notebook volumes, increasing share from 27% last year.
Consumer demand drove the majority of ultraslim growth, as it increased by 20,5% year on year. This proves that new portable solutions are becoming more attractive for consumers if the benefits of products, such as longer battery life, are clearly promoted.
The commercial segment continued to be dominated by traditional notebooks as costs remained a strong decision driver. However, the majority of ultraslims are in the commercial segment, which remained fairly flat compared with last year (0,7% year on year decrease).
“Consumers are increasingly looking at performance, thinness, weight, battery life and display quality when they purchase new devices or replace old ones” says Andrea Minonne, research analyst for IDC EMEA Personal Computing. “They prefer more frequently thin and light solutions that are high-performing and easy to carry around.
“Ultraslim notebooks allow for flexibility and address consumer mobile needs well. The results show a great performance for ultraslims and highlight their strong growth potential across Western Europe.”
In fact, after the launch of the MacBook Air, many vendors launched new products to compete in this market and expand their customer base, such as Dell with its XPS model and Lenovo with the Ultrabooks family.
Apple remains dominant in this product category, accounting for over a third of the overall 2016Q2 ultraslim market share in Western Europe.
HP is right behind but is gaining ground compared with last year, thanks to the success of Spectre.
Lenovo’s ultraslim models (Thinkpad X1) maintained the same share compared with last year, despite experiencing growth.
Among this product category, Chromebook is gaining momentum and experiencing high growth, especially in the Nordics.
Similarly to ultraslims, detachables are experiencing interesting growth in Western Europe, as shipments rose from 0,5-million in 2015Q2 to 1,6-million units in 2016Q2, in contrast with the 6% decline of the tablet market. Detachables performed strongly across all Western Europe, posting triple-digit growth in all countries.
Surface continued to be the most widely adopted detachable in the commercial segment, while iPad Pro reached first position in the consumer segment.
Detachables posted strong growth in both consumer and commercial, showing that interest in this form factor continues to be on the rise in both segments. Despite the rapid growth in both segments, the drivers behind their performance differ between them.
“The interest in detachables in the commercial segment is generated by the number of premium devices available in the market and the increasing number of use cases in which detachables emerge as the optimal solution,” says Daniel Gonçalves, research analyst at IDC EMEA Personal Computing.
“While deployments are not massive, since detachables are mainly adopted either to address specific vertical needs or by top executive ranks, the number of companies adopting them is clearly picking up as some of the classic concerns such as device performance are being tackled by this wave of new releases.
“On the other hand the penetration of detachables in the consumer segment is driven by many local vendors and white brands moving away from the already saturated slate space dominated by Android. These players keep targeting market share in the entry-level space, and now they also supply 9- or 10-inch screen size, Windows-based devices with basic features and keyboard capabilities.”
Detachable and ultraslim gains are contributing to Windows regaining ground. Windows continued to lead, accounting for 44,8% of the combined PC and tablet market. The Windows performance was stronger across tablets than PCs. In fact, Windows grew by 25,5% in tablets, while it declined by 1,6% year on year in the PC market.
Awareness of Windows 10 continued to increase, but many companies are still running on Windows 7 platforms and need time and budget to transfer all their legacy applications to the new OS version. However, Windows 10 is continuing to fail to impact positively on hardware renewals.
Android/Chrome OS ranked second, with Android being the most preferred OS in the tablet market (73,4% share). Chrome OS adoption was still marginal compared with other OS, but it is the one experiencing the highest growth in the PC market (53,4% year on year increase). Chromebooks are performing strongly, especially in the Nordics, where shipments are high especially in education prior to the back-to-school season.
Apple OS X/iOS ranked third and remains the most popular OS in the premium segment. OS X / iOS-based devices accounted for 35,9% market share in the greater than €1000 price point in the overall computing device spectrum. The new iPad Air Pro 9,7-inch released in March contributed to Apple reaching the leading position in the 2016Q2 detachables vendor ranking.
In conclusion, 2016Q2 confirmed that in Western Europe new form factors continue to progress. A whole fresh ecosystem of operating systems, new models, and processors are increasing their penetration on the market. Combined, they provide portability, enhance the computing experience for consumers and target the mobility needs of many enterprises.
These new form factors also bring more profitability to most manufacturers, which is a key reason of their focus, as competition in the entry-level space with more traditional product categories remains fierce.