Think the PC market is generally scary these days? Wait until you see the UK’s figures

Kids watching scary movie

It’s no secret that the market for traditional PCs is shrinking as consumers turn to tablets for their essential web-surfing, document-editing needs. But sometimes we see a startling reminder of just how quickly that shift is happening in certain countries.

Take the UK. On Thursday the analyst house Gartner released figures for PC shipments in western Europe for the third quarter of this year. Overall there was a 12.8 percent decline, which is in line with the horror show we’ve come to expect, but turn to Britain and the year-on-year drop was 21.2 percent.

That’s partly due to tablets and partly because  manufacturers are being cautious about inventory while shifting to Intel’s shiny new Haswell and Bay Trail processors and the new Windows 8.1 release. But still. Here’s the chart:

Gartner UK PC sales Q3 2013

Note how Lenovo, which posted a 13 percent revenue jump on Thursday, is the only winner in the market. If you’re going to opt for a PC it’s quite likely for the typing, and Lenovo makes great keyboards. An exec from a certain large x86 chip house also whispered to me recently that Lenovo’s Yoga convertibles are, along with Microsoft’s Surface Pro, the only devices of their type that are selling strongly.

Gartner’s figures take in all PCs using x86 architecture, including non-RT Windows 8 tablets, for what that’s worth. No Chromebooks were included, which is interesting. Chromebooks may be mostly based on ARM processors and unable to run Windows, but go to Amazon UK and you’ll see them topping the popularity list in the laptop department – to the average consumer, they just look like very cheap PCs.

Anyway, here’s what Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal had to say in a statement:

“Eleven of the previous 12 quarters also showed decline in the UK PC market. Overall, we expect the PC market in the UK to remain weak in the fourth quarter of 2013.”

How weak? Well, Atwal said earlier in the statement that the western European PC market was “declining faster than expected,” so things may soon get even uglier for the PC industry.

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