Friday, 18 December 2009 08:46

PC market returns to growth; better times ahead

PC shipments have finally returned to growth, according to figures from IDC. And Apple is outperforming the market.

After three quarters of decline, IDC has reported 2.3% growth in worldwide PC shipments for the third quarter of 2009.

The company now predicts total PC shipments for 2009 will be slightly up on 2008, with a return to strong growth in 2010 that will last at least to 2013.

But the recovery - such that it is so far - isn't evenly spread.

IDC's predicting a permanent shift away from desktop models, with sales having already peaked for the foreseeable future.

The worldwide mix for 2008 was 144.9 million desktops, and 142.7 million portables for a total of 287.6 million units.

For 2009, IDC is estimating 126.2 million desktops and 165.2 million portables, ie 291.4 million units overall.

That means a 1.3% increase in total units, but a 15.8% lift in portable units.

Many of those portable units were mini notebooks (including netbooks) - that category grew by 37% from 2Q09 to 3Q09, and doubled its share of the consumer portable market from 14% in 3Q08 to 28% in 3Q09.

While prospects for that hardware segment appear limited, commercial purchases are set to boom - see page 2.

That said, IDC expects new ultra-thin portables will choke the demand for mini notebooks, although the category will continue to grow in 2010.

"Vendors are competing aggressively to capture back-to-school and holiday demand," said IDG research analyst Jay Chou.

"Beyond stabilising their business, PC vendors are trying to position themselves for gains as the market recovers. We're seeing aggressive promotions and expect innovations leveraging new technologies, including ultra-thin designs, touchscreens, and LED panels," added Chou.

AppleInsider notes that IDC's figures show Apple achieved year-on-year growth of 16.4% for the quarter. Chou told AppleInsider "they outperformed the total market quite well".

Although the total growth in the quarter came from the consumer market, IDC reported a slowing in the decline in commercial PC sales, and expects the sector to return to growth in 2H10.

"An ageing installed base of PCs to replace, along with government aid and declining average selling prices are key ingredients in a recipe for resurgence of PC shipments into the commercial market segment," said Richard Shim, research manager for PCs at IDC.

"The combination of a recovering commercial market and a healthy consumer market will lead to double-digit shipment growth through 2013," he added.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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