Use of desktop PC continues to fall

In the consumer market, a lot of households have already got rid of their traditional desktop computer in favour of a laptop or even a tablet. In the business market too, end users are increasingly seen to use hardware other than the time-honoured PC/desktop to perform their duties. As 2017 got under way, Computer Profile took stock of the situation on the Belgian market. Holding down a share of 58 percent of the overall business end user hardware, laptops continue to remain the most widely used computer system, although they are witnessing a declining trend. In 2010, the share held by the desktop PC stood at around 71 percent of the total installed base. The gap left by the desktop is chiefly taken up by laptops. Since then, laptops have gone on to take up one third of the total number of computer systems in the business market. Yet, even though thin client systems and tablets may have driven up their share, this growth seems to have ground to a halt.

Penetration at site level

Even though the desktop PC is losing ground in the total number of the end user systems this does not mean to say that Belgian businesses and institutions are banishing the desktop. Out of all the Belgian company sites with 50 employees or more that we interviewed, 93 percent report that they are using desktops. Over the last few years, this proportion has fallen by around one percentage point a year. There barely seem to be any differences at site level in the penetration of desktop PCs. Only in ICT & Utilities sector the penetration (at 78%) is seen to be less than 90 percent.

Laptops are used at 95 percent of company sites. This rate has gone virtually unchanged over the past 8 years. Various segmentations barely show any difference in the degree of laptop penetration, neither according to sector nor according to size class.

Tablets were first included in the Computer Profile questionnaire from 2012 forward. In 2013, we found that approximately 17 percent of business sites had issued staff with company-provided tablets. A figure which has since increased to 27 percent. Sectors which are seemingly lagging behind are the transport industry (19%) and the care sector (22%).

Thin clients, which make up 7 percent of the total number of end users systems, are seen to be used by just under a quarter (23%) of the target group. This rate too has barely changed in recent years. The use of thin clients does seem to be correlated to the nature of the business activities. The positive outliers in the thin client penetration are the care sector (39%) and the transport industry (30%). The penetration level in the construction industry (12%) and business sites in the ICT & Utilities segment (13%) on the other hand is relatively low.


The market for end user hardware is populated by a comparatively limited number of players. For tablets, the Belgian business market continues to be headed up by Apple’s iPads for now. Around 7 in 10 tablets are built by Apple, with Samsung and Microsoft occupying the number two and three slots. However, compared against 2013, the market share taken up by the two latter vendors has gone up. In 2013, Samsung and Panasonic both held down 2 percent of the installed base. Microsoft tablets were yet to appear on the market at that time.

To a large degree, desktops and laptop systems are built by the same manufacturers, which is why the graph shows the two types of systems totalled for each of the manufacturers involved. Out of the total number of desktops and laptops encountered by Computer Profile, the bulk is made up of HP systems. Around 40% of all desktop/laptops are HP Inc. systems. Dell follows at relatively close quarters, representing 36 percent of the total installed based. Occupying a 9 percent share of the total installed base, Lenovo takes up the number three position on the Belgian market.

Over the last eight years, HP and Dell have barely seen any changes in their share of the installed base. Over this time span, HP has constantly been fluctuating between 37 and 40 percent, with Dell hovering around the 36 to 38 percent mark. From 2010 to the present day, Lenovo has trebled its share from 3 to 9 percent. Priminfo too has managed to drive up its share from 3 to just over 8 percent over the same time period. Priminfo is largely seen to be used in in the public sector. They take up close to 22 percent of all laptops and desktops used by government organisations, 18 percent at educational institutions and ca. 12 percent at care institutions.

For thin clients, we are seeing a number of specialist parties coming to the fore, with IGEL Technology as the most distinctive player. Around 16 percent of the thin client systems encountered at Belgian business sites are supplied by this vendor. This puts IGEL Technology in third place on the market, outperformed only by big name hardware suppliers HP and Dell. Neoware and Axel occupy numbers 5 and 6 on the Belgian market, right behind Lenovo, both companies holding down a share of approximately 2 percent.