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Gartner reduces forecast for PC market

by Scott Bicheno on 31 August 2010, 15:46

Tags: Gartner (NYSE:IT), General Business

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Risky business

Market researcher Gartner has revised its growth forecast for the worldwide PC market in the second half of this year to 15.3 percent, down a couple of percentage points on its previous forecast.

Reports from the channel have been anticipating this for a while, and the reason given was macroeconomic worries in the US and Western Europe. 15 percent still isn't bad, however, and the forecast for the whole year is for a 19.2 percent increase.

"There is no doubt that consumer, if not business PC demand has slowed relative to expectations in mature markets," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

"Recent dramatic shifts in the PC supply chain were in no small part a reaction to fears of a sharp slowdown in mature market demand. However, suppliers' risk-aversion is as much a factor in these shifts as any actual downshift in demand."

"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."

So it's still consumers keeping things ticking along, having concluded the PC is now a must-have item. They're probably even more indispensable to business, but the refresh cycle is being extended to unprecedented lengths while the global economy still has the potential to go Pete Tong. You have to wonder how long sticking with old kit will remain a viable option, however.

"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," said Atwal. "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 observed that the share of total mobile shipments accounted for by netbooks declined for the second quarter running. The reasons for this are a combination of the novelty wearing off, the similar price of entry-level notebooks and the impending arrival of a bunch of Android tablets. Gartner doesn't reckon the iPad has had too much impact on netbooks because its costs so much more than them.


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