May saw an interesting trend in the business channels a startling return to growth, with overall IT categories up 12 per cent in volume and eight per cent in value. This is in contrast to the retail channels, where volume is currently struggling to catch up with value.

Components go from strength to strength

When we drill down further into the reasons for this, we see one key trend pushing the business IT market into growth the rise of components. This could highlight a tendency for companies to continue to upgrade their existing hardware, rather than buy a new machine. Both monitors and memory modules showed the largest unit growths, over 24 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

The memory module’s growth can be partly attributed to the increase in average specifications for PCs now 4096MB of RAM has become the norm over and above 2048MB. It makes sense that consumers and businesses would upgrade to keep up-to-date.

We also saw significant value growth for a few other key component categories. Housings grew an astounding 77 per cent this year, and strong growth was also logged for power management devices and communication cards.

Interestingly, despite large gains for monitors within system houses, consumers are backing up against the wall when it comes to monitor purchases. We are seeing a ten per cent decline in units and a 9.3 per cent year-on-year decline in value in retail channels as a whole, with the biggest loser being mass merchandisers, with 24 per cent volume and 18 per cent value declines in the same period.

Prices across the board showed a general decline, but notebooks were responsible for the majority of the fall, dropping from an average of £631 to £583. The total business decline was a mere 2.7 per cent, and this was despite a rise of over 30 per cent for desktops, a similar rise for storage and a slight rise for software.

Netbooks, long the golden boy of the retail channel, appear to have outstayed their welcome in business posting a 41 per cent unit decline and a 40 per cent value decline year on year. Even notebooks, having gained significantly in recent years, have lost three per cent in units and ten per cent in value.

While Desktop computers did show a decline in units of over eight per cent, they gained 20 per cent in value, almost entirely down to the provisioning of some higher-end servers. In fact, servers in business channels were up 122 per cent in volume and 134 per cent in value year on year. We also saw good growth for some of the newer desktop form factors, with all-in-ones up 30 per cent in volume, and micro PCs maintaining their exponential growth 725 per cent in volume and an even larger 880 per cent in value. The value growth is due to a significant price increase of 18 per cent, up to £362, and perhaps showing that the business channels take micro PCs even more seriously than consumers.

With the business channels maintaining their affection for the desktop form factors, can we anticipate a return to growth for many of the component categories? Only time will tell.

For further information please contact Chris Kennedy-Sloane in the UK on 0870 603 8136.

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