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. 

It was difficult to wave goodbye to 2016 without feeling a bit down – we’ve had a turbulent time of it with periods of instability undoubtedly set to continue, causing knock-on effects for the IT buyer. That said, there’s nothing like the promise of January to evoke a sense of optimism as we look to the start of another new year.

True enough, it wasn’t all doom and gloom in the final months of 2016. Smartphones are on track for long-term shipment growth, tablets are set to rebound, and virtual reality and wearable shipments are all booming.

Exchange Rate

December saw the euro start poorly against the pound. It dropped from 0.8448 to 0.8372 by December 3 recovering to 0.8493 four days later before entering a decline. It hit its monthly low of 0.8364 by December 18 before surging to 0.8511 on December 23 and again to 0.8564 by Dec 30. From there it ended the month slightly down at 0.8521.

The euro had no such luck against the dollar. After rising from 1.0613 to 1.0746 on December 6 it was all downhill from there, falling to 1.0558 by December 10. From there it experienced a quick rise to 1.0434 on Dec 16. After sitting at 1.0444 from December 22-29, the euro rose to 1.0536 on Dec 30, but fell to sit at 1.0516 on the 31st.

December was the month the Eurozone experienced its highest inflation growth since 2013. Annual inflation rose to 1.1%, up from 0.6% in November and 0.2% in December 2015. Higher energy prices, services, food, alcohol and tobacco, and non-energy industrial goods all posted growth this month helping to drive inflation.

The Eurozone was also boosted by the ECB’s extension of quantitative easing. Business activity also grew, despite political uncertainty surrounding Trump and Brexit.

Phones and Tablets

According to IDC, over 100,000 smartphones are damaged by liquid every day in Western Europe alone. The analyst warned that liquid damage is the second-biggest cause to damaged smartphones globally and accounts for 35% of all smartphone repairs.

This in turn is said to be what’s driving shipments of water-resistant smartphones, with shipments in Western Europe during the period January-September up 45.2% to 22.5m units, constituting 23% of the smartphone market. Non-water-resistant smartphones fell 17.1% YoY to 75.2m units over the same period.

Meanwhile, Gartner said that global mobile phone shipments will continue to enjoy growth over the next few years, forecasting the number of units shipped to grow from 1.888bn in 2016 to 1.937bn units by 2019.

Despite a 12% YoY decline in shipments in 2016, IDC is predicting 2018 as the year the global tablet market rebounds on the back of the growing popularity of detachable tablets.

Traditional PCs

The end of 2016 saw Gartner predict that shipments of traditional PCs (desktop and notebook) will drop from 219m units to 193m units by 2019. It’s not all bad news, however, with Gartner suggesting that the PC market will benefit from a replacement period during 2018 that will help ease the decline.


The global printer market continued to decline in Q3 of 2016, with shipments down 3% to 25m units. According to IDC, HP claimed the top spot with 9.5m units (down 4.7% YoY) and 37.9% market share, while Canon in second shipped 4.9m units (down 7.1% YoY) and 19.6% market share.

On a more positive note, Western Europe’s laser printer market enjoyed a 1.9% YoY growth in shipments in Q3, bucking the negative trend seen over the previous five quarters.

Lastly, despite stalling and accounting for just 4% of the market and 7,726 units shipped, 3D industrial/professional printers accounted for 78% of the global 3D printer market in terms of revenue.


Stat of the month: The largest amount of new products coming on the market occurred on December 7, with 38 products being launched in a single day.

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