PC Forecast Gets a Lift

International Data Corp. (IDC) has raised its forecast for worldwide PC shipment growth in 2002 from 1.8 percent in December to 3.0 percent after it saw signs of growth in some key markets.

Retail sales in the United States and growing demand in Western Europe were key factors in revising the numbers, according to IDC. With the exception of Asia-Pacific, all regions grew slightly faster than expected in the fourth quarter of 2001, and the United States has recovered more quickly than other regions.

“Economic indicators in the United States have finally begun to point consistently to a recovery,” said Roger Kay, director of client computing at IDC. “Given that productivity and confidence measures correlate closely with PC shipments, we can expect improving performance in the PC market through the year. Thus, we have raised our outlook from slightly negative to slightly positive in terms of expected year-on-year growth in 2002. Consumer buying should follow a normal seasonal pattern, and purchasing activity by commercial entities is expected to rise slowly but steadily.”

Consumer demand in the United States should recover throughout 2002 along with most commercial segments. By contrast, the U.S. education segment is likely to suffer from reduced budgets and shipments are projected to decline by 10 percent.

Several trends in seen in the fouth quarter of 2001 indicate that worldwide markets are recovering from a sluggish 2001. Commercial desktop and consumer portables sales in Europe picked up in the fourth quarter, and IDC expects that to continue in 2002. Although some segments grew faster than expected in the fourth quarter, the European market is expected to recover slower than the United States due to reserved commercial spending and because the slowdown in 2001 was less dramatic.

China, which now accounts for 42 percent of shipments in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan, will continue to drive growth in the region. Although China slowed considerably in 2001, the market grew at 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter and is expected to continue to drive growth in the region in 2002. Continued government spending will be key to PC market growth in Asia-Pacific in the first half of 2002, although consumer growth should recover to solid double digits in the second half of the year.

Japan’s economy continues to hold down sales, but IDC does not see further erosion in Japan. While consumer demand recovered somewhat in the fourth quarter, overall shipments in Japan will decline in double digits in the first half of 2002 and commercial market shipments will barely show positive growth even by the fourth quarter.

“With growing signs of economic recovery supporting the market, both consumers and commercial buyers are feeling more confident making significant IT purchases,” said Loren Loverde, director of IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. “By year-end, we expect consumers will be even more optimistic and that their PC spending will reflect that. Commercial spending should also improve, as replacement buying picks up.”

IDC still expects worldwide PC shipments to continue to decline year-on-year in the first quarter of 2002, although the second quarter should be roughly even with 2002. In the third and fourth quarters of 2002, the market is expected to grow by almost 10 percent.

PC Shipments and Growth, 1998 to 2003
(millions of units)
Market Sector 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
U.S. Units Home 12.1 17.2 18.8 15.0 16.4 17.5
Commercial 23.3 26.6 28.1 26.1 25.8 28.6
Total 35.4 43.8 46.9 41.1 42.2 46.1
U.S. Growth Home 42.7% 9.1% -20.1% 9.3% 6.5%
Commercial 13.9% 5.5% -7.0% -1.4% 11.0%
Total 23.7% 6.9% -12.2% 2.5% 9.2%
Non-U.S. Units Home 14.6 21.7 30.4 28.4 29.3 32.8
Commercial 39.5 45.3 51.3 52.3 54.0 60.3
Total 54.1 67.0 81.7 80.7 83.3 93.2
Non-U.S. Growth Home 49.3% 39.8% -6.6% 3.2% 12.1%
Commercial 14.7% 13.2% 1.9% 3.3% 11.7%
Total 24.0% 21.8% -1.2% 3.3% 11.8%
Worldwide Units Home 26.6 39.0 49.2 43.4 45.7 50.3
Commercial 62.8 71.9 79.3 78.4 79.8 88.9
Total 89.5 110.9 128.5 121.8 125.5 139.2
Worldwide Growth Home 46.3% 26.2% -11.7% 5.3% 10.0%
Commercial 14.4% 10.4% -1.2% 1.8% 11.5%
Total 23.9% 15.9% -5.2% 3.0% 10.9%
Source: IDC

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