Canadian ultraportable sales skyrocket in Q2: IDC Canada

The market for netbook computers appears to have peaked, at least for now, but ultraportable computer sales are up sharply within the portable segment and even desktop sales are increasing, according to second quarter Canadian Client PC market numbers from IDC Canada.

Overall, IDC reports the Canadian market outpaced its expectations in Q2, with unit volume up 22.6 per cent over the same period one year ago but down 8.7 per cent from the first quarter of 2010. Overall, 1,483,034 units shipped in Q2. The Canadian market outpaced global shipments, which rose by 20.9 per cent.

Within the overall figures, portable shipments were up by 25.4 per cent year over year to 913,518 units shipped, and desktops were up by 18.5 per cent year over year with 569,516 units shipped. More interesting was the movement within the ultraportable category. Netbook or mini notebook sales were down by 168,000 units or 60 per cent from their Q4 2009 high and down 35.3 per cent from Q1 2010, although year over year the decline is just 2.5 per cent, indicating the market may have spiked quickly, and has now cooled. Conversely, the ultraportable segment, which includes tablets but doesn’t include the Apple iPad, grew by 203.6 per cent, year over year.

Tim Brunt, senior analyst, personal computing with IDC Canada, said both consumer and commercial customers are starting to get more selective in their buying and no longer base their decision solely on price, which is influencing the netbook/ultraportable trend. It also led to a 6.3 per cent increase in average selling values over Q1 2010, despite a drop in shipments.

“The big difference (between netbooks and ultraportables) is the processor, a full power processor vs. an Atom processor. Certainly there’s a lot more expandability on the ultraportable and convertible tablet side,” said Brunt. “I think we’re starting to see people lose interest in the minis, and the market is going stagnant with a lot of attention around tablets and rumours of new products to be launched soon. There’s definitely a shift away from minis; we’re starting to see products stay on shelves longer. There’s also still a lot around with Windows XP, when the ultras make better use of Windows 7 and other features Windows 7 offers.”

Consumers are leading the spike in ultraportable sales with a 278 per cent jump, but sales were also up 190 per cent in the commercial segment, according to IDC. The segment leaders are HP, Lenovo, Panasonic and Toshiba.

Overall, Brunt said the enterprise market is doing better than expected, and performed above a forecast that was pessimistic due to the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) in British Columbia and Ontario on July 1st, after the end of Q2. Once the HST kicked-in, businesses were able to write off the PST in addition to the GST, resulting in additional savings. Brunt said 60 per cent of businesses in those provinces told IDC they planned to delay purchases until after July 1st to take advantage of the savings, and he added they have seen sales momentum picking-up after that date. Some vendors also offered programs to offset the benefits prior to the HST rollout.

On the vendor side, HP remains the market leader with 23.6 per cent market share, including 23.9 per cent of desktops and 23.4 per cent of portables. Acer was second with 19.7 per cent, followed by Dell with 17.1 per cent, Apple with 9.9 per cent, and Lenovo in fifth with 8.6 per cent.

With the back to school season coming soon, Brunt said he’s already seeing some pretty aggressive pricing on minis and other laptops into the student market, and some pretty good movement on desktops targeted at students. Desktops are getting more shelf space and more attention, and Brunt said retailers are positioning desktops as a hub and complement for students that may have purchased a netbook last year.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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