Tablets replaced netbooks at the beating heart of the UK PC market in the fourth quarter as growth returned despite the best efforts of the weather and dipping consumer confidence.
Figures from channel analyst Context revealed unit shipments through UK distributors edged up nearly 6% year-on-year in Q4 and revenues grew 12.8%. For the year, unit sales were up 17% and revenues went up 19%.
It was a rollercoaster sales quarter said Jeremy Davies, co-founder at Context, with weak October numbers leading a strong November before problems hit in December.
"Having seen the recovery in the first three quarters of 2010 there was bad luck with the weather and a lack of confidence from consumers," he told MicroScope.
"Don't take the [December performance] as an indication of a collapse in the market; consumers just tightened their belts. This could be a temporary glitch but it's a bit of a waiting game," Davies added.
Across the quarter, tablet PCs shipments and revenues jumped 272% and 101% respectively, as desktops unit sales climbed 8.8%, servers were up 7.8%, notebooks rose 3.1% and workstations 2%.
Netbook shipments "fell off a cliff" in the last three months of 2010 with sales declining 33% as consumers developed an appetite for Apple's iPad slate format.
The VAT rise this month and the public sector cuts are reasons to forecast cautiously for 2011 but the corporate refresh activity is expected to buoy the industry this year.
Alex Tatham, sales and marketing director at Westcoast, said that in the past couple of weeks the retail sector had been slower than expected though B2B markets were "pretty good".
"There is no cause for panic, there are plenty of opportunities in the market and we have no reason to change budgets at this stage," he said.