The UK PC market shrank by nearly one fifth in the Christmas quarter, suffering the worst decline in half a decade.
PC shipments in Q4 slumped by 19.6 per cent to 2.95 million units, with every major vendor apart from Apple posting negative growth.
"PC vendors vendors face a long, uphill struggle to regain the interest of consumers. The introduction of Ultrabooks in late 2011 is desperately needed," said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.
Flakey demand from consumers was again apparent, with sales in that corner down more than 20 per cent, but the professional market was also down on its luck as austerity measures hit home, particularly in the education sector.
The slide in netbook popularity continued with units down more than 50 per cent year-on-year, which is in stark contrast to the heady days during Q3 in 2009 when the platform accounted for almost one-in-three PCs flogged in the UK.
Market leader HP and second-placed Dell saw shipments slump by 27 per cent and 32 per cent respectively, while third-placed Toshiba fared better with a decline of 5.4 per cent. Apply snuck into fourth with growth of 17.2 per cent.
Pushed into fifth spot, Acer - once the UK's biggest shifter of PCs - saw its market share continue to erode as sales collapsed 62.4 per cent.
"The UK market has been a prime illustration of the underlying weakness in PC demand across Western Europe," said Atwal.
Unit sales across Western Europe dropped 16 per cent year-on-year to 58.5 million boxes - the fourth quarter of consecutive declines. Gartner said that despite "aggressive pricing and special holiday deals for PCs", high street and web shoppers opted for smartphones, fondleslabs and e-readers rather than traditional machines.
Across the region, the professional market saw sales fall 13.5 per cent as adoption of Windows 7 remained "subdued" due to economic woes, while consumer sales went down 18 per cent.
The hard drive crisis in Thailand last year impacted sales minimally in Q4 said Gartner, with local PC assemblers feeling the pinch more than most. However, the bean counter warned: "If general market conditions continue to deteriorate, we expect hard-disk drive shortages to be just one of many contributors to overall PC market contraction in 2012". ®