European IT market is becoming more complex

Findings of GfK Retail and Technology for the first half of 2011
(PresseBox) (Nuremberg, ) The IT markets in Europe have become significantly more heterogeneous in the first half of 2011 than in previous years. The industry has nevertheless demonstrated that it can adapt to the particular market situation. Overall, the IT sector in Europe recorded a rise of 11% in the first six months. These are the latest GfK Retail and Technology findings prepared for IFA 2011, which is taking place in Berlin.

At present, differing market trends can be observed in Western and Eastern Europe as well as in the private and business customer segments. The tablet PC is at the center of hardware interest across all European countries. The next few quarters will certainly see further product innovations from various manufacturers in this area. As a result, the outlook for this sub-market is generally acknowledged to be bright, with very high growth rates expected both this year and next. Although private customers are currently mainly interested in iPads and similar devices, consumers are not buying tablet PCs instead of, but rather in addition to their existing IT equipment. There is currently no cannibalization of mobile computers by tablet devices, and none is expected in the medium term. The wide variety of computing devices, from tablet PCs through netbooks and notebooks, to all-in-one computers and desktops, is a reflection of the diverse nature of the digital lifestyle.

Central and Eastern Europe: positive developments

The markets in Central and Eastern Europe are recovering progressively from the financial and economic crisis, as demand remains positive both in the private commercial sectors. Sales of IT products grew by 33% in the first half of 2011. GfK Retail and Technology is optimistic that this trend will continue over the whole year.

Desktop computers are currently the primary beneficiaries of this pleasing development, both in the case of business customers and the more price-sensitive private consumers. The Windows 7 operating system is the reason for replacing hardware. Consumers in Eastern Europe are also increasingly buying mobile computers. As is the case with their Western neighbors, these devices are becoming more and more the standard computer in private households, even though their average prices are higher. A similar trend can be seen in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which benefit from more flexible and individual computer usage by their employees.

Western Europe: notable differences between private and business customers

The IT markets for private customers in Western Europe are evidently satu-rated for the most part. The first six months of the year have seen sales 4% lower than a year before. Only some niche markets, such as large-format monitors, portable external hard disks and tablet PCs, are posting a rise in demand. In Germany for example, a situation where households are well-equipped with IT products and there is a restraint in making new investments, stagnation exists in the computer and monitor market, with -3% in the first half of 2011. In Southern European countries such as Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, on the other hand, the tough economic situation together with consumer unease has even led to a decline in private demand. In addition, there is no real innovation in many segments, so European consumers barely see any reason to make new purchases.

Completely the opposite picture can be seen in Western Europe in relation to business customers, with sales rising by 22% in the first half of the year. The trend towards cloud computing is having a highly positive effect. Businesses are currently investing primarily in the basic technical requirements so that they can offer and use these services on a greater scale in future. This trend should continue until mid-2012 since digital content in HD quality and high user numbers require a correspondingly powerful infrastructure. Because of this, demand for products such as switches, routers and network storage, is extremely positive at present. As in the previous year, this is supplemented by PC replacement purchases due to the introduction of the Windows 7 operating system into companies.

Outlook: Single-digit growth in 2011

The IT sector is now much more complex than in the past. The trend towards strong growth in niche markets that are technologically sophisticated, together with the impact of replacement purchases, saturated submarkets and cloud computing products will increase further in the future. GfK Retail and Technology expects positive growth of the overall IT market in the single-digit range in Europe, both for this year and next.

The method

Through its retail panel, GfK Retail and Technology regularly gathers data on hardware and software, IT accessories, office equipment and supplies in more than 90 countries worldwide. The present analysis is based on current developments in the IT market in 26 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Ger-many, Great Britain, Italy, Hungary Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Nether-lands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzer-land and Ukraine.

Further information: Dr. Rudolf Aunkofer, tel. +49 911 395-2282, rudolf.aunkofer@gfk.com, or visit our office at the IFA trade fair in Berlin from September 2-7, 2011 (VIP Room 2, "Großer Stern").

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