Gartner raises global PC shipment forecast

Stronger than expected PC sales during this year's second quarter have prompted Gartner Inc. to boost its third-quarter PC sales forecast, but the research firm cautioned that economic conditions will have to pick up significantly for PC vendors to see a sustainable recovery.

Gartner predicted in June that worldwide PC shipments would grow 7.2 per cent year-over-year in 2003, with 137.6 million units shipped. Now, the firm expects 2003 annual growth of 8.9 per cent, on shipments of 161.3 million units. Third-quarter shipments are forecast at 39.8 million units, a 9.6 per cent increase on 2002's third quarter.

Second quarter shipments exceeded Gartner's forecast, prompting it to raise its third-quarter estimates, the firm said. It attributed the strong second-quarter sales primarily to home, government and education buyers.

A lasting turnaround in PC sales, though, depends on corporate buyers, and as economists continuing to offer cautious outlooks, businesses are extending their PC replacement cycles, according to Gartner. Selective replacements popped up in the first half of this year as companies scrapped PCs reaching the end of their useable lives, but a widespread replacement program isn't likely until early 2004, the firm said.

Notebook computers will continue as a growth driver, Gartner said, as buyers take advantage of Intel's heavily advertised Centrino mobile products. The increasing availability of "whitebox" notebooks is also spurring sales, according to Gartner. Whitebox PCs are generic machines sold at a lower cost than those made by name-brand vendors.

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