PC industry to revive in 2003

The corporate replacement cycle will boost sales of PCs in 2003, while the mobile phone industry will be at the mercy of consumers in China, according to new research

In 2003, large companies will begin to buy PCs again, and consumers will be increasingly eager to snap up mobile phones, according to financial analysts WR Hambrecht and Co. Such trends could mean a healthy 10 percent growth for the semiconductor industry, as well as 10 to 15 percent growth in wireless and 5 to 6 percent for the PC business -- all three of which have been floundering for several years.

The report, issued late last month, predicts that semiconductors will grow from 68 billion units in 2002 to 74 billion units in 2003, driven by increasing functionality and new applications such as wireless LANs.

PC growth is being driven by enterprises, which the company believes will begin upgrading in the second half of 2003. In the mobile phone market, Hambrecht expects handset sales to reach 113 to 115 million for the fourth quarter of 2002 and for seasonally strong Christmas sales to stick around.

This is due to sustained demand from China, as well Nokia's introduction of a large number of new phones and AT&T's expansion of the GSM market in the US, according to analyst Satya Chillara. GSM is the standard in most of the world, but is only one of many players in the fragmented North American market.

"We believe consumers are leading the way, by buying selective items such as notebook computers, digital cameras, DVD players and WLAN access points/NIC cards during the Christmas season," Chillara said in the report.

High-tech industries such as PCs and telecommunications equipment have been disproportionately affected by the general economic slowdown, following explosive growth in the late 1990s. Many analysts expected sales to begin rising again in 2002, but this hope did not materialise. Industry executives have continued to warn that they see no upturn in the near future.

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