PC market growth sluggish despite end of war

Gartner's latest research projects that PC buyers and corporations will not flock to buy new technology any time soon, amidst continuing economic uncertainty

The PC market will grow only slightly for the second quarter of this year, amidst continued economic uncertainty and the absence of an economic upswing that some had predicted following the end of the war in Iraq, research firm Gartner has predicted.

In a new report announced on Wednesday, the company forecast a 6.4 percent quarter-on-quarter increase to 30.7 million units for the worldwide PC market, with revenues hitting $38.3bn, or about £24.5bn, for the quarter.

Projections for the rest of the year also ruled out any dramatic growth. Gartner expects worldwide PC shipments to hit 136.9 million units in 2003, up 6.6 percent from 2002, and to generate $170.6bn in revenues for the year, up only 3.3 percent from last year.

Analysts said that global economic issues are still determining PC buying trends, among them continued sluggishness in Europe and the US and the SARS outbreak. "The SARS outbreak in Asia is already having an appreciable impact on select economies in the region, and there is a rising danger that the outbreak could significantly impact the entire region if intra-regional trade is severely disrupted," said George Shiffler, principal analyst for Gartner's computing platforms and economics research, in a statement.

The end of the war in Iraq had not led to any appreciable economic upswing, at least not yet, Shiffler said.

Gartner expects Intel's Centrino family of mobile chips, which includes processor and Wi-Fi components, to become standard for large corporations. However Gartner does not expect the debut of Centrino to have an immediate impact on the mobile PC market, as large corporations tend to take three to six months to evaluate new technologies.

Tablet PCs, which use a form factor similar to notepads and incorporate handwriting recognition, made up only 1 percent of mobile PC shipments for the first quarter of 2003, Gartner said.

For a round-up of the latest tech business coverage, see the Business News Section.

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