For the third consecutive year, IT technology sales through U.S. distributors and commercial resellers have remained flat, at approximately $58.5 billion, according to research by The NPD Group Inc.
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According to the report, which was conducted by The NPD Group's Distributor Track and Reseller Tracking Services unit, distribution sales accounted for 62% of IT sales and grew less than 1% in 2012 compared with a drop of 1% in 2011. Reseller sales accounted for 38% of IT sales, a decline of slightly more than 1% compared to an increase of 4% in 2011.
The top five revenue categories for indirect sales in 2010, 2011 and 2012 -- computers and servers, consumables, network equipment, software, and storage hardware -- continue to drive the lion's share, or 72.5%, of commercial sales revenue. That figure has been relatively unchanged for the past four years, according to NPD analysts.
The demand for storage products had the strongest increase, with a 10.4% revenue uptick in 2012. The growth was attributed to a healthy 50% uptick in solid-state drive sales and to strong growth in storage systems, with a reported increase of 13.5%. Both storage and networking products are expected to continue driving overall growth in 2013.
Numbers were more mixed for PCs and notebook sales. Total PC sales fell 7% in 2012. Desktop unit sales increased 4% from 2011, with sales of Windows-based PCs up by 5.2%. The indirect sales market for notebook sales was especially sluggish, decreasing 13%, overall. However, the poor performance was one-sided, with Windows notebook sales dropping 16% while Mac sales grew by 15%.
Windows 8-based computers accounted for 18% of notebook sales and 5% of desktop sales through commercial channels in Q4.
The NPD Group's Distributor Track and Reseller Tracking Services unit reports that companies, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, continue to spend on technology that's necessary for day-to-day business, but are less invested in long-term projects that target overall technology improvements.
According to the report, NPD Group analysts expect 2013 trends to follow a path similar to these 2012 trends.