31 Mar Gartner: PC shipments could grow 11 percent in `08
Stamford, Conn. – Unless economic headwinds get even stronger, worldwide personal computer shipments will rise by 10.9 percent to a total of 293 million units in 2008, according to a new report by Gartner, Inc.
The slowing economy in the United States is causing the technology research firm to hedge its bet, however, as its analysts warned that PC sales growth could fall into single digits if the massive economies of the U.S. and China experience further weakness.
Commenting amid fears that the U.S. economy will plunge into a recession, which is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, George Shiffler, research director at Gartner, said in many respects the PC market is fundamentally in good shape. He cited mobile units, which continue to exhibit strong momentum, plus robust emerging-market growth and desk-based PC replacement activity.
“However, a deepening U.S. recession, the rising possibility of a sharp slowdown in China’s economy following the Beijing Olympics, and the elevated price of oil mean global PC shipments face increasing economic headwinds,” Shiffler said.
Earlier this year, Gartner reported that the worldwide personal computer market grew by 13.4 percent in 2007.
According to Gartner, strong worldwide demand for mobile computers remains one of the key drivers of strong PC market growth. Technology and design improvements have not only lowered the price of mobile units, but have significantly improved their value proposition relative to desk-based computers.
The relative value of mobile PCs also has been bolstered by the continued expansion of mobile access, and this increase in value continues to stimulate strong demand for mobile computers across both mature and emerging markets, Gartner said.
The organization’s analysts said mobile PC shipments would gain additional momentum as so-called “affordable” mobile PCs, which address price points once thought impossible for mobile units, become more widely available.
Emerging markets, where economic growth still is strong, saw PC shipments grow by 22 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, accounting for 60 percent of worldwide PC unit growth.
Replacements also are expected to become a key driver in PC sales. Desk-based computers experienced their last major replacement cycle from 2004 to 2005, and Gartner’s replacement model indicates that desk-based PCs are on track to experience another, albeit more modest, replacement cycle from late 2008 to early 2010.
In addition, mobile PCs remain on track to experience a steady increase in replacement activity through late 2009. Replacements account for 60 percent of PC shipments worldwide and nearly 80 percent of U.S. personal computer shipments, Shiffler said.
While these factors bode well for PC vendors, PC shipment growth will ultimately depend on the interplay between these drivers and the global economy.
Through its impact on consumer incomes and business profits, slowing gross domestic product growth can affect PC shipments. However, that impact has “probably softened” over time as PC prices have fallen and PCs have become more indispensable to work and home use, Gartner indicated.
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