Gartner: PC shipment to grow 19.7 percent

Worldwide PC spend in 2010 will reach US$245 billion as consumer demand and corporate refresh initiatives are stepped up, research analyst notes in new forecast.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Worldwide PC shipments are projected to increase 19.7 percent over 2009 to reach 366.1 million units this year, according to a new report from Gartner.

Global PC spending will also grow 12.2 percent year-on-year to reach US$245 billion in 2010, the research analyst said Friday in a statement.

The latest estimates is an upward revision from its 2009 forecast, which pointed to a 13.3 percent shipment growth, and 1.3 percent spending increase, for this year.

Unit growth in the PC market, Gartner added, will increase strongly over the next few years as home PC demand accelerates and professional replacement rise in the anticipated recovery from the global recession.

George Shiffler, research director at Gartner said the PC industry will be "overwhelmingly" driven by mobile PCs as a result of strong growth in the consumer market of both emerging and mature markets.

Portable computers, he noted, are expected to contribute to 90 percent of global PC growth over the next three years. Laptops currently account for 55 percent of all PC shipments and by 2010, nearly 70 percent.

Desktop PC shipment growth, on the other hand, is expected to be minimal and limited to emerging markets.

Mini-notebooks, which boosted portable PC growth last year, will continue to be a strong driver in 2010, said Shiffler. However, netbooks' contribution to overall sales is expected to decline noticeably following that as they face growing competition from ultra-low voltage ultraportables and next-generation tablets.

Despite the research firm's prediction, some experts have noted in earlier reports that tablets are more likely to become companions to netbooks and not a replacement.

According to Gartner, Apple's announcement of the iPad has generated much discussion regarding the market opportunities for traditional tablet PCs and next-generation tablet devices. It predicted that vendors could ship up to 10.5 million traditional tablets and next-generation tablet devices worldwide in 2010.

In an earlier report, IDC analyst Richard Shim said users have been interested in tablets but the price points had always been too high.

"This has changed, clearly," said Shim, pointing out at Apple's iPad's starting price of US$500.

Gartner to vendors: Think beyond the box
In the Gartner report, principal analyst Ranjit Atwal noted that vendors can no longer afford to think in terms of traditional PC form factors or architectures.

"With the rise of Web-delivered applications, many users no longer need a traditional PC running a general-purpose operating system and fast CPU to satisfy their computing needs," he said. The entry of new devices, he added, will change the entire PC ecosystem and overlap with the mobile phone industry, creating significantly more opportunities for PC vendors as well as threats.

"Opportunities and risks for the PC certainly seem tilted toward the upside now, following many quarters in the balance," said Atwal. "New challenges are arising that will extend the PC ecosystem, increasing choice and competition."

Ultimately however, consumers will decide how far the PC ecosystem extends and at what rate the PC industry grows, he added.

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