Tag: Context

Printer hardware sales down in EU but not UK

printingpress2Distributor sales of printer hardware are down across Western Europe, but the UK is doing ok, according to a new report.

Beancounters at Context have added up some numbers and worked out that unit sales of inkjet multifunction printers (MFPs) across Western Europe declined by nine percent year-on-year in Q3 2017. This is not limited to MFPs though, with the research saying that overall sales of printer hardware is down.

Context Imaging Analyst Zivile Brazdziunaite said that sales fell in all categories except for laser MFPs: distributor sales of these devices increased by two percent year-on-year in Q3 2017, driven by the colour laser MFPs subcategory..

“In contrast, unit sales of laser single-function printers (SFPs) continued to contract, and were down by 15 per cent year-on-year, as a result of the ongoing switch from single-function to multifunction devices.”

Sales of A4 colour laser MFPs increased by six percent year-on-year in Q3 2017. Almost half of all A4 laser printers sold in Western Europe are now MFPs, and the average selling price (ASP) of both mono and colour devices continues to fall. The ASP of A4 mono laser MFPs decreased by two percent and currently stands at €176, while the ASP of A4 colour laser MFPs is €296 (down by three percent).

Following a decline in previous quarters, sales of A3 colour laser MFPs slightly increased across Western European distribution for the quarter, while ASP in the segment continues to fall – down to €2,188 in Q3 2017, a drop of 20 percent year-on-year. HP expanded its A3 product portfolio earlier this year and registered a strong performance in the region.

The United Kingdom is one of the few stable countries in the region with no movement at all. The worst country is the Netherlands with a decline of 28 percent, while the most prosperous for printers is Lithuania at 25 percent.

Sales changes by Country:


The United Kingdom 0 %


















Poland -14.7%

Channel consolidation causes headaches for resellers

Woodridge, IL, USA --- Great White Shark Opening Mouth --- Image by © Denis Scott/Corbis

Woodridge, IL, USA — Great White Shark Opening Mouth — Image by © Denis Scott/Corbis

Channel consolidation has stepped up and leading resellers are worried about pricing and procurement costs.

The latest CONTEXT ChannelWatch Survey, which profiles the views, activities and intentions of 7,500 global resellers, revealed that over 30 major distributor M&A deals have taken place in Western Europe in the past 18 months.

Across 20 EMEA countries there was a three percent year-on-year reduction of active resellers in the 90 day period in March to May 2017, according to CONTEXT’s Reseller Count Metrics tracking.

The report warns that if this carries on the reseller landscape will soon be unrecognisable.

The average number of distributors which resellers are buying from has also dropped from the five to 10 range in the last report period to just two to three this year, partly driven by the rise in purchases from retailers, according to CONTEXT.

Many more distributors have ceased trading altogether across the globe, while those that survive are being forced to move away from box-shifting towards holistic strategies focused on services and solutions.

Where margins used to reach double figures, half a percentage point now matters and this increases the importance of controlling costs, having well-oiled logistics, and looking for new, higher-margin opportunities, the report claims.

CONTEXT global managing director Adam Simon said that most consolidation has occurred in the long tail of smaller players and those in consumer channels, but larger resellers and retailers are merging too.

“This activity can also be viewed in the context of increasing reseller churn, especially associated with transitioning business models linked to cloud adoption.

“The main concerns of resellers are focused around rising pricing and procurement costs, which many believe will be the natural outcome of a consolidating market”, Simon added.

UK PC prices up 40 percent

old-pcs-100565082-primary.idgeUK PC prices have shot up by over 40 percent in the last year due to the weakening pound, component shortages and a shift towards higher-value products.

The average selling price for PCs among UK distributors hit £475 in April and May, up from £335 a year earlier, according to analyst Context.

That represents a 42 percent hike – significantly more than any other country in western Europe, where PC ASPs only rose by an average of 19 percent.

Context senior analyst Marie-Christine Pygott said that European prices increases were driven by currency fluctuations, price increases by vendors to offset the effects of higher component costs, and a shift to higher-value products,

However, the UK increase was well above that of Germany, at 12 percent, and France, at seven percent. This was due to Brexit-fuelled price increases last year.

Spain and Italy saw ASPs price rise by 11 and 10 percent in the quarter. Other than the UK, the highest increase was seen in Sweden and Poland, at 18 percent.

UK prices would have been lower if it had not been for the currency fluctuations, Pygott said.

“We have seen vendors trying to de-spec products to offset the rising cost of components. The price increases may be less visible to consumers, but they will still be there in terms of an indirect increase.”

A shift to higher-value products, such as gaming systems in the consumer segment, and high-end notebooks in the commercial space, has also contributed to the rise, according to Context.

In  Q4 and Q1 in the UK volume sales did go down but actually revenues rose because of higher ASPs,” she said.

“Early Q2 has been weak in terms of both volume and revenue performance, but then April had fewer trading days due to Easter. We will wait to see how June pans out to see if it offsets this.”


PC sales continue to dip but value increases

pc-sales-slumpWhile the number of PCs sold continues to fall the value of those sold has increased, according to figures from Context.

According to Context, the desktop market has been consistently pants over recent quarters with the consumer end of the business in the doldrums. The only positive signs comes from the enterprise market.

This has meant that volumes continue to decline but price rises caused by currency fluctuations and part shortages have meant that the revenues have increased.

Figures from Context covering PC sales across Western Europe in the first quarter found that year-on-year the volume of sales was down by 2.4 percent but revenues were up by 8.3 percent.

Most hardware manufacturers have been forced to put their prices up to try and cover costs, thanks to the falling pound. But higher end products have proved popular with powerful notebooks doing well in the enterprise space.

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context said that revenue growth was driven by a significant rise in distributors’ average sell prices for the quarter.”

“Across the entire Western European region, average selling prices were up by 11 percent to €553 compared to Q1 2016. Across just the eurozone countries, ASPs for the quarter rose 7.3 percent to €535,” she said.

One of the drivers of investment has been the high-profile ransomware attack on the NHS, which was caused essentially because of the use of out-of-date Windows XP machines.

Context claims commercial users buying PCs

Beancounters at Context claim that PC sales through distribution across Western Europe in Q4 show that the commercial market is still buying PCs.

Apparently while consumer sales continue to slump, commercial PC sales continued to hold up towards the end of last year and gave a fillip for resellers.

Context pointed out that the fourth quarter is always traditionally a busy period in the PC hardware world and the market for Western Europe was hit by “soft consumer performance”, which dragged it down by two percent compared to last year.

Windows 10 is starting to become a significant driver of sales with distributors handling more Win 10 pre-installed machines in the fourth quarter, Context said.

Commercial sales were up by six percent year-on-year with all categories delivering growth.

Notebooks were up nine per cent, desktops two percent and workstations by one percent. Detachables, which includes the iPad Pro and Surface Pro also continue to remain in demand.

It is the consumer space which has been proven to be pants since 2016. Volume sales of PCs aimed at home users dropped by seven percent. All categories were down but the worst was desktops with a 16 percent fall.

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context said that Windows 10 began to play a stronger role in the commercial segment in Q4 2016.

“38 percent of Windows Business PCs sold through Western European distributors during the quarter featured Windows 10 Pro compared to 22 percent in the third quarter.”

The performance of the enterprise market has given hope to those vendors that continue to fight for market share in the PC market and has been used as evidence by the likes of Lenovo that there is still gold in them thar hills.

Commercial sector helps PC growth

20120313_InformaticaThe commercial sector has been a PC sales hotspot helping the market deliver low growth in third quarter, at least in Western Europe.

Bean counters from Context have been adding up the numbers, and dividing by their shoe size and decided that the commercial sector has been a growth area. While the back to school windows for the PC market have been disappointing, commercial orders grew to cover up the problems as efficiently as woodchip wallpaper.

Context said that most of the third quarter  was used by distribution to clear PC inventory, using special promotions as a tool, to get things ready for the fourth quarter.

Sales across Western Europe for third quarter came in at 0.8 per cent up, year-on-year, with notebooks improving by 3.5 per cent as desktops continued to decline with a 5.9 per cent fall. The UK saw third quarter PC volume growth beat the overall Western European market, coming in at 1.2 per cent in the third quarter.

Context said there were reasons to be optimistic about the future, with Windows 10 having an impact. However, it warned that Brexit would have an impact on pricing as would the uncertainty caused by the political situation.

The business customer base was the one that kept firing with sales up by 3.3 per cent, with notebooks driving that performance.

So far Windows 10 had not had much of an impact, but Context saw some spending as a result of upgrading to run the latest Voleware.  This is expected to filter through this quarter and the first half of next year.

Marie-Christine Piggott, senior analyst at Context said that there are expectations in the business space of continued, moderate growth at the end of 2016 thanks to year-end projects and Windows 10 commercial sales will also begin to pick up at the end of the year,” said.

There is little hope for the Consumer side. Customers were moving away from the traditional laptops and PCs preferring to splash out on convertibles, Chromebooks and gaming PCs.

Business customers also embraced detachable with that segment rising by 227 per cent year-on-year to go above 250,000 units through distribution.

The third quarter was great for vendors. HP which now commands a third of the units going through distribution. Asus also saw volumes increase by nine per cent  to gain a 13 per cent  share and Dell was also improving, Context said.


Tablet sales still falling

stylustabletResellers trying to peddle tablets are having a tough time of it as users have moved onto the next new shiny thing.

According to beancounters at the analyst Context Western European tablet sales “dramatically declined” in Q4 2015, as consumers looked to alternative devices such as two-in-one detachables and convertible notebooks.

But the market watcher found that the fall in sales in the PC market “softened”, driven largely by stock clearance.

Unit shipments of slate tablets for distributors in Western Europe fell by 27.5 per cent year on year for Q4 2015, dropping from more than five million to about 3.7 million in the last quarter of 2015.

Germany saw particularly poor performance for the devices, with tablet sales down 43.4 per cent.

Spain also saw a plunge in demand, with sales down 31.3 per cent and the UK was down 14.1 per cent.

Context attributed this decline to an upswing in popularity of alternatives including two-in-one detachables, which sold 300,000 units, a year-on-year increase of 31.3 per cent. The analyst also noted a big increase in convertible notebooks, with sales up 84.7 per cent year on year.

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context, said: “To put these figures in perspective, detachable and convertible pcs comprised 11 per cent of overall notebook unit sales in distribution at the end of last year, and an even larger share (15 per cent) in the consumer space.”

The PC market fared better, with “a strong focus on stock clearance” helping to see a respite from its recent tumbling numbers. PC distributor sales were largely flat, down only 0.1 per cent year on year for Q4 2015, and this was boosted by notebook sales up 2.7 per cent over the same period.

The UK market saw PC sales up 10 per cent as it suffered fewer currency headaches than the eurozone countries. Spain saw PC sales up 8.3 per cent, but Italy saw a decline of 3.3 per cent and France was down 9.2 per cent.

Consumer PC shipments were up 2.9 per cent but business shipments fell by 4.5 per cent year over year.

Doom for hacked printer

doom_sprite_wallpaper_by_bobspfhorever78-d6lij4oIn what has to be the best proof of concept hacking of a printer, Context Information Security analyst Michael Jordon managed to get a Canon Pixma printer to run the game Doom.

Jordon said that Canon Pixma wireless printers have a web interface that shows information about the printer, for example the ink levels, which allows for test pages to be printed and for the firmware to be checked for updates.

He found that the interface doesn’t need any sort of authentication to access and while you would think that the worst that anyone could do is print off hundreds of test pages and use up all of the printer’s ink, Jordon found a hacker could do a lot more damage.

The interface lets you trigger the printer to update its firmware. It also lets you change where the printer looks for the firmware update.

A hacker could create a custom firmware that spies on everything that printer prints, it can even be used as a gateway into the network.

To show what was possible Jordon got the printer to run Doom.

Canon offers very little protection against this. If you can run Doom on a printer, you can do a lot more nasty things. In a corporate environment, it would be a good place to be.

Who suspects printers?  Well other than Nigel from accounts and he thinks aliens are trying to take over the coffee machine.

Canon has promised that it is working on a fix and is taking a chainsaw to the problems highlighted by Contecxt.

“All PIXMA products launching from now onwards will have a username/password added to the PIXMA web interface, and models launched from the second half of 2013 onwards will also receive this update, models launched prior to this time are unaffected,” Canon said.


Industry experts talk up R2B, R2D2

highA group of executives behind the Retail to Business (R2B) initiative is warning retailers that they could be in a world of trouble if they don’t start targeting businesses.

The R2B initiative was formed by Context and it’s backed by execs from Lenovo, AMD, Lexmark, Tech Data and other companies. The ultimate goal is to make retailers more competitive and capable of taking on B2B resellers.

“Let’s stop the decline – or stores will end up being showrooms,” Global MD for Retail at Context Adam Simon told PCR. “Don’t just focus on consumers and tablets – blur the consumer and SMB. Support the small business people and their entourage.”

The consumerisation of IT and trends like BYOD is already blurring the line between SMBs and average people. Context argues British retailers could learn a thing or two from telecoms who have dedicated in-store corners in their shops for business users. Germany is also setting an interesting example, as its retailers are already selling heaps of laptops to businesses.

BYOD: security, it’s heard of it

byodA survey by Context said that despite the prevalence of BYOD (bring your own device) in the work place, security cannot be guaranteed.

Context says there’s a clear trade off between convenience and security. It examined three products: Airwatch, Blackberry Universal Device Service and Good for Enterprise, in conjunction with IOS and Android devices.

While these products all provide good levels of BYOD security, Context found the underlying operating systems limits what they can achieve.

Alex Chapman, senior consultant at Context, said: “There is no realistic way to guarantee the security of a workable BYOD environment, but organisations can take significant steps towards mitigation of security risks if they combine technical security controls with clearly defined acceptable use policies. MDM…can only lock down mobile devices to the extent that underlying operating systems will permit and BYOD implementations can only lock down devices to a level that users are willing to accept.”

European PC market cloudy

cloud 1Europe has seen a bleak view of the PC market with shipments falling by 20 percent year on year.

That’s the latest from Context, which said that the first quarter of 2013 saw the drop with the  steepest decrease occurring in Central and Eastern Europe.

The research company said these areas were most hit as a result of continued inventory weaknesses in Russia, which contributed to a decline of 23 percent for the region over the first quarter of this year compared to last year.

Russia itself saw PC shipments drop by 29.1 percent followed by Poland with a drop of 19.1 percent.

Over in Western Europe the picture wasn’t any brighter with figures showing a decline of 22 percent and almost every country registering double-digit falls including Spain at one end with a fall of 35.2 percent and the UK at the other with a drop of 16.6 percent.

The Middle East and Africa however, had a better quarter, with a lesser decrease of 11 percent recorded including Turkey where shipments fell by only two percent.

However, the future remains bleak with the company projecting a similar trend for Q213 with inventory continuing to be an issue in certain countries.

It said vendors were expected to act cautiously with their sell-in levels to avoid excess stock accumulations especially prior to the third quarter back to school period.

Windows 8 touch screens fail to thrill

msTouch-screen Windows 8 portable PCs are still failing to cut the mustard in Europe with cpeople preferring to spend their cash on tablets.

That’s the latest from IT market research company Context, which has said that this could lie in the fact that at the October Windows 8 launch last year, there was no significant support from leading hardware vendors for touch screens in portable PCs.

It added that at the time only 1.1 percent of all the Windows 8 portable PCs selling through distribution at the time of the launch were touch screen-enabled. By the end of January this year, this had only risen to 2.4 percent, while tablet sales had increased “significantly” over the same period.

However, the momentum is still upbeat with hardware vendors surveyed by Context claiming that they are anticipating some uptake in sales of touch screen enabled portable PCs by the third quarter of 2013 in time for the end of year holiday season.

The company warned that with the price of 15-inch and higher touch screens still expensive, making the portables a high-priced item, the cheaper tablets could potentially dampen touch screen sales.