Last Month’s IT Supply Chain Developments and Their Impact on Buying Decisions

Al Nagar, Head of Benchmarking, KnowledgeBus, Mercato Solutions, continues his series of monthly advisory pieces sharing recent movements and 'impactors' within key IT product categories, to keep you up to date with the latest developments and help support your purchasing decisions. 

Last month was a bit of a rocky road for IT buyers where, for every positive, there seemed to be a negative. Wearable shipments continued to enjoy great success, while PC sales seem to be on a downward slide. Semiconductor revenues are both up and down, flash shortages continue to drive up prices, average panel sizes are growing yet LCD shipments are falling. Against this backdrop, the euro got off to a strong start but fell against both US and UK currencies.

Exchange Rate

Against the pound, the euro started the month at 0.8546 and rose steadily to 0.8769 by March 11. From there, it fell against the GBP, eventually hitting 0.8631 by March 23. A small rise to 0.8682 followed a week later as the euro took a sharp dive, ending the month at 0.8554.

Against the dollar, the euro started at 1.0553, undergoing a slight drop before rising to 1.0617 by March 4 before falling again. From there it experienced more jumps and dips, reaching 1.0860 on March 27, before diving to 1.0682 at the end of the month.

Currency fluctuations in March may have been impacted by inflation which slowed more than expected to sit at 1.5% for March, down from 2% in February. The ECB says it was caused by temporary factors such as lower oil and food prices, that will reverse in April.

Phones and Tablets

As the first quarter of 2017 ends, March saw us look back to some of the trends of 2017. Apple’s iPhone 6S, 7, 7 Plus and 6S Plus, respectively, were the top four smartphone models shipped globally in 2016. According to IHS, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge came in at fifth, and the company also took six, eighth, ninth and tenth place with its mid-tier J models. The only other model in the top ten was Oppo’s A53, in seventh.

Chinese vendor Oppo’s rise on the back of a 109% shipment growth in 2016 took the company to fourth spot for the world’s largest smartphone maker by shipment, behind Apple, Samsung and Huawei. 80% of Oppo models were shipped to its domestic Chinese customers.

Traditional PCs

Soft consumer performance and weaker commercial desktop sales have driven Western Europe’s PC total volume sales down 4% YoY for the first two months of the year. According to a report by Context, commercial notebook sales enjoyed 3% YoY growth, the only bright spark in an otherwise dim time for PCs in the region.


According to IDC, global large format printers enjoyed a 5.4% YoY growth in shipment values for Q4 and a 4.5% growth overall for 2016. HP led the market with $246.94m and 25% market share in Q4 and $975.11m and 25.1% annually, followed by Canon with $119.63m, 12.1% in Q4 and $467.21m and 12% for the year. Epson took third place with $75.01m (7.6% market share) in Q4 and $277.14m (7.1% share) for the year.

The medical 3D printing market is set to undergo significant growth as developers look further into bioprinting with parts of the human liver by 2020. According to a report by ComputerWorld, donated healthy liver cells will be able to be replicated by a 3D printer onto a coin size piece of tissue, giving those awaiting transplants an extra year or two of life expectancy.

Stat of the month: The largest number of new products coming on the market occurred On March 6, with 5,102 products being launched in a single day.

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