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November 23, 2009

PC shipments will climb in 2009: Gartner

End of year mobile computer sales will boost figures

By Steve Evans

Analyst firm Gartner believes that worldwide PC shipments will climb nearly 3% in 2009, but declining prices will mean that revenue will dip nearly 11%.

A surge in PC sales during the third quarter of the year has forced Gartner to reassess its earlier predictions that shipments would fall 2% this year. The new forecast predicts worldwide PC shipments will total 298.9 million units in 2009, up 2.8% from 2008.

“Shipments in the third quarter of 2009 were much stronger than we expected, and that alone virtually guaranteed we would see positive growth this year,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner. “We’re anticipating seasonally modest growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, but because shipments were so weak in the fourth quarter of 2008, growth will appear quite strong. This could lull vendors and market watchers into thinking the market is recovering faster than it really is.”

This unexpected increase in shipments is most likely due to a reduction in the price of PCs, something that will also have an impact on revenue for the year. Gartner estimates that market value of global PC shipments for 2009 will be $217bn, a drop of 10.7% year from 2008.

“Blame this year’s drop in market value on the unprecedented declines in PC average selling prices (ASPs) we’ve seen this year,” Shiffler said. The rapid decline in PC ASPs reflects a marked shift towards lower price points as customers have looked for ‘good enough’ PCs at the cheapest price, and vendors have tried to spur market growth by catering to ever-lower price points.”

Gartner believes that the growth this year has been driven by sales of mobile PCs, such as laptops, notebooks and mini-notebooks, also known as netbooks. Sales are on target to hit 162 million units in 2009, a 15.4% increase over 2008. However, growth of mini-notebooks is expected to slow from next year, Shiffler said.

“Mini-notebooks are facing increased competition from other low-cost mobile PCs, as well as alternative mobile devices. They are rapidly finding their level in the market, and we expect their growth to noticeably slow as early as next year,” he said.

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2010 should see PC sales grow again, with Gartner estimating shipments of 336.6 million units, a 12.6 percent increase over 2009. Mobile PC shipments for 2010 are tipped to hit 196.4 million units, well up on 2009.

Desk-based PCs will see a 9% dip in sales this year, to total 136.9 million units. Rob Lovell CEO at hosted VDI firm ThinkGrid, believes this trend will continue.

“Gartner’s news hints toward the death of PC in its traditional desk-based form. We believe businesses that continue to depend on these types of machines will look for even bigger cost reductions and shift toward the hosted virtual desktop model supported by low spec, thin client devices. This is because when it comes to hardware refreshment, by taking the hosted desktop route using thin clients these businesses can still get the benefits of new OSs such as Windows 7 but without the need for investment in higher-spec and more costly notebooks and laptops,” he said.


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