While PC shipments have staged a comeback this year, Gartner’s researchers have reduced their sales forecast for the second half of the year by 2%. Previous warnings by analysts were confirmed by an Intel statement on Friday that it was lowering sales forecasts. It said: "Revenue is being affected by weaker-than-expected demand for consumer PCs in mature markets."
Gartner is now projecting worldwide PC shipments of 367.8 million units in 2010, a 19.2% increase from 308.3 million units shipped in 2009. This will be the first time PC shipments have averaged a million per day.
Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal said in a statement:
"Consumers buoyed the PC market in 2009 as businesses delayed their purchases. The slow pace of economic recovery and austerity measures in Europe have made PC suppliers very cautious in 2010. However, consumer demand is likely to remain strong even if the economic recovery stalls because consumers now view the PC as a relative 'necessity' rather than a 'luxury' and will continue to spend on PCs, even at the expense of other consumer electronic devices."
This should not affect the ‘corporate refresh cycle’ as businesses move from Windows XP to Windows 7 because "businesses will find it very difficult to delay PC replacements further. The age of the professional PC installed base is already at an all-time high."
"Businesses that delay replacing much longer risk alienating employees, burdening themselves with more service requests and support costs, and ultimately facing higher migration costs when they eventually migrate to Windows 7. The bottom line is that businesses need to refresh their PCs sooner rather than later. Thus, the full bloom of the long-awaited professional PC refresh can't be more than a few quarters ahead."
Gartner also sees diminishing sales of netbooks, which it calls mini-notebooks. Netbooks accounted for 20% of mobile PC sales at the end of last year, but Gartner expects it to fall to around 10% by late 2014.
"The recent decline in mini-notebooks' share of the mobile PC market reflects a general realisation among buyers that mini-notebooks are less-than-perfect substitutes for standard low-end laptops," said Gartner’s Raphael Vasquez. He said:
"Buyers who once would have bought a mini-notebook based solely on its low price now seem more inclined to buy a low-end standard notebook, especially since the prices of the two have converged. Mini-notebooks are slowly but surely carving out a market niche for themselves as companion devices. However, the emergence of media tablets is a growing threat to that niche."
Gartner counts tablets with "full-function operating systems" such as Windows 7 in with PC sales, but not tablets with a "restricted-function OS", such as iPhone, Android and Chrome. "Nonetheless, media tablets will affect the PC market, especially mini-notebooks, and the forecast reflects this impact," said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner.
Shiffler said: "The iPad hasn't had much of an impact on mini-notebook units so far, if only because it is generally priced higher than most mini-notebooks. However, we anticipate lower-priced iPad imitations will begin to take larger bites out of mini-notebook units as they are released next year."