Samsung laptops to be pulled from sale in Europe

Samsung Chromebook Image copyright Samsung
Image caption Samsung's Chromebook outsold many rival laptops, but its low cost meant it had slim margins

Samsung has announced that it is ending sales of its laptop computers in Europe.

The move includes its Chromebook model, which had previously been one of the category's best-sellers.

The South Korean company's decision follows Sony's announcement earlier this year that it was selling its Vaio division and pulling out of PC sales altogether.

However, other firms have recently reported growth in the sector.

Samsung signalled it might consider similar action in other parts of the globe.

"We quickly adapt to market needs and demands," said the company in a statement.

"In Europe, we will be discontinuing sales of laptops including Chromebooks for now.

"This is specific to the region - and is not necessarily reflective of conditions in other markets.

"We will continue to thoroughly evaluate market conditions and will make further adjustments to maintain our competitiveness in emerging PC categories."

Focus on phablets

Market analysis firm IDC has predicted that portable PC sales will grow by 5.6% this year in mature markets, partly offsetting a decline in 2013.

Image copyright Lenovo
Image caption Lenovo reported big gains in laptop sales in its last financial quarter

However, Samsung does not feature in its list of the top five PC sellers, and it appears that rivals have accounted for what growth there is.

Lenovo recently reported a 17% rise in revenue from notebook sales in its April-to-June quarter compared to the same period the previous year. It claimed that made it the most popular laptop brand in 15 European, Middle Eastern and African nations.

Apple also posted a 13% year-on-year rise in Mac sales over the same three months, driven in large part by demand for the MacBook Air.

"With Samsung you can clearly see the focus shifting towards the tablet and phablet space, rather than the laptop, and that's clearly from a consumer's perspective where the strength of its brand lies," commented Windsor Holden from tech consultancy Juniper Research.

"With someone like Apple you've got strength across the brand - the 'Macheads' are historically a loyal bunch - and Lenovo is also still doing very well in that market.

"But I think we're seeing a gradual thinning out of the players active in this sector."

Samsung's smartphones have also come under pressure in recent months.

Surveys indicate sales of its phones have been overtaken in India and China by local firms Micromax and Xiaomi.

That resulted in the Samsung Electronics division posting a 20% year-on-year drop in its net profit in June and dozens of executives voluntarily handing back part of their bonuses.

However, in recent weeks its soon-to-be-released Galaxy Note 4 large-screened smartphone and add-on virtual reality headset have both attracted warm reviews.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Early reviews have praised Samsung's virtual reality helmet, which uses the Note as a screen

"What I think you may be seeing from Samsung is a renewed focus on its mobile devices, especially what it is doing in the Android market," said Rhoda Alexander from the IHS consultancy.

"You have a lot of competition in that sector at the moment, and this might be an opportunity for it to concentrate its energies in that direction rather than spreading them all about."

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