By Chris Velazco
Western Europe is a tough place to be for PC manufacturers right now. According to a report from technology research firm Gartner, sales are down nearly across the board, with just a single exception: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).
In fairness, even though Apple was the only manufacturer to experience positive growth, the figures aren’t anything to write home about. Apple only picked up half of a percentage point — a very modest gain to say the least — but nearly all of Apple’s competitors ended up in the negative. Acer (OTC:ASIYF) took the brunt of the damage with a 44.6% drop in units sold, but Asus (-22.9%), Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) (-12.7%), and runner-up HP (NYSE:HPQ) (-6.1%) didn’t fare much better.
Netbooks reportedly accounted for much of the losses, with tablets eating up much of the demand for mobile computing tools. Asus' and Acer’s sharp declines in sales are at least partially being blamed on their over-reliance on netbook performance. Both companies have made inroads into the tablet segment, but this could mark the beginning of a more concerted effort to win back some market space from the iPad.
So, for the second quarter in a row, Apple has taken the crown. Still, while growth is growth, I’m not sure anyone at Cupertino is terrible pleased with their performance: In Q1, they managed a 10% jump in growth. HP is slowly improving, and with its money behind the TouchPad, we may see it rally next quarter.
Asus and Acer, frankly, should be a bit worried. Both have dropped substantially since Q1 last year, and unless they get their game on, they’ve got more red ink in their future. Like I mentioned, I think their tablet efforts are going to be key in coming months. Acer in particular has always been a fan of the low cost PC, and if it starts to eschew netbooks (at least for now) in favor of tablets, it may be able to pick up some much needed ground. It looks bad, but some solid steps over the next few months could turn everything around for Asus, Dell, Acer, and HP. All the companies listed here are going to have to tweak their strategies and hustle, because western Europe is beginning to look like the Wild West.
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