Global economic uncertainties, carbon tax initiation and high interest rates continued to weigh down consumer and business sentiment in Australia, resulting in the PC market's softest quarter in two years. While the New Zealand market was more robust than expected following a year of uncertainty and natural disasters, the 10% sequential growth in New Zealand was overshadowed by the 12% dip in Australia, lowering the total ANZ PC market to 1.55 million units shipped in Q1 2012 (1.35 million in Australia; 0.2 million in New Zealand).
In Australia, with consumer spending tightening, retail saw a significant deterioration in sell-through performance, thus causing large inventory build-up in channels. The hype and novelty factor of Ultrabooks was unable to elevate the market due in part to their expensive price points. Despite vendors' and Intel's marketing push, Ultrabook stock levels remained high by the end of the quarter. Commercial spending also reduced across market segments as firms focused on managing costs while education spending declined with the end of the Digital Education Revolution program. The impending release of the new generation of Intel processors further contributed to the delay in PC refreshes
"Aggressive injection of marketing funds that fueled the price wars in 2010 and 2011 resulted in accelerated PC refreshes but sales fatigue eventually took a toll on consumers last quarter," said IDC market analyst, Amy Cheah. "Many PC retailers are struggling to remain profitable amid severe market softness and we are seeing many of the major Australian retailers consolidating their footprint to varying degrees."
In Australia, HP held firm its market share having secured key wins in the government space while also maintaining a consistent run rate business in the SMB and corporate space. Apple recorded a slight drop in Mac sales as attention shifted momentarily to the new iPad and Ultrabooks. Although as an aggregate effort Windows-based Ultrabooks took share from Apple's Macbook Air, individually it failed to make a dent on Apple’s position as leader in the expanding thin-and-light notebook space. In fact, Apple retook the number two spot in the overall PC market as Acer's shipments normalised given the completion of its notebook roll out to Queensland school.
In New Zealand, the PC market is showing signs of recovery after a year of contraction in 2011. Consumer, SMB and Education were the largest growth sectors given the back-to-school and back-to-work seasonality in Q1. HP recorded strong sequential growth in unit terms, but lost share as its competitors such as Acer and Toshiba were also able to leverage on the improving market conditions to regain share in retail.
IDC expects the market softness in ANZ to continue into Q2 2012 and forecasted the quarter to remain flat sequentially. "We are cautious in our outlook for Q2 as tax time in Australia is becoming less of a driving factor to households and businesses. While the double interest rate cuts this quarter may help ease financial burdens, it will take months before the upside, if any, translates into PC sales" said Cheah.
1Q 12 Market Share