LONDON: PC shipments in Western Europe posted 8.6% growth in the first quarter of 2014, setting the region apart from the rest of an EMEA market that recorded an overall decline of 1.1% compared to Q1 2013, the latest industry data has shown.

The rapid improvement in Western Europe was underpinned by strong demand from the commercial sector and signs of renewed economic confidence, reported the International Data Corporation (IDC).

It recorded a 15.1% increase in shipments to commercial customers and a more modest 2.1% rise in the consumer sector, which meant the consumer market returned positive results for the first time in nearly two years.

On top of the improved business outlook in the region, IDC also attributed demand to Microsoft's decision [on April 8] to end Windows XP support, which further stimulated renewals, while noting that desktop PC shipments grew by double digits.

"While consumers in Europe are still spending on tablets and smartphones, interest in desktop and portable PCs has increased again recently, as some end users start to purchase PCs again after years of delayed renewals," said Maciek Gornicki, a senior analyst at IDC.

By contrast, shipments fell in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Middle East and Africa (MEA), which declined by 16.7% and 8.4% respectively, caused by a mixture of currency fluctuation, political unrest and ongoing economic uncertainty.

Even though the MEA's –8% decline compared poorly with Western Europe, IDC said its performance was better than expected, especially in the consumer sector.

Likewise, there was some good news for the CEE region – notably, positive results in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania, which went some way to mitigate a major slowdown in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.

Taking EMEA as a whole, total shipments reached 21.8m units over the quarter. Desktop PC shipments increased by 1.4% while those of portable PCs fell by 2.6%.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) maintained its lead after posting 16.4% year-on-year growth to 4.7m units to increase its market share to 21.6% while Lenovo recorded impressive growth of 33%.

This took the Chinese company's market share to 15.9%, or 3.45m units, and suggested Lenovo may be on course to fulfil its ambition, announced in September last year, to overtake HP in the European PC market by 2015. 

Dell recorded respectable growth of 9.6%, enabling it to overtake Acer to become the third largest vendor, while Taiwanese companies Acer and Asus made up the final two vendors among the top five.

Data sourced from IDC; additional content by Warc staff