Research house Gartner says PC-makers will ship more products this year, thanks to growing demand for notebooks and netbooks.
Revising its September numbers, which predicted a 2% decline, Gartner’s preliminary forecast
tips 2.8% growth in unit sales this year to 298.9 million.
However, it says PC sales revenue will fall 10.7% to US$217 billion (€145 b), a result of “the unprecedented declines in PC average selling prices (ASPs),” according to research director George Shiffler.
“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,” he said.
The big driver has been mobile PCs – laptops and netbooks – which are expected to grow 15.4% to 162 million units. By contrast, demand for desk-based PCs shrank 9%.
The growth turnaround was also boosted by unexpectedly strong Q3 shipments, and “that alone virtually guaranteed we would see positive growth this year,” Shiffler said.
“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.”
Shiffler said Windows 7 would have a limited impact on holiday sales but noted that 2010 PC shipments could be affected.
“We just don't see consumers buying new PCs solely because of Windows 7.”
Gartner projects the market value of PC shipments to reach $222.9 billion in 2010, up 2.6%, as shipments increase 12.6%.
Shiffler said ASPs were likely to flatten out but, “given the market's competitive dynamic, we don't see PC ASPs rising any time soon. As a result, growth in the market value of shipments will significantly lag shipment growth next year and beyond.”
The weakness in the PC market held back Hewlett-Packard’s Q4 performance. Despite shrinking sales in four of its main divisions, the company boosted net earnings by 14% over last year’s fourth quarter.
Demand from the consumer market and China has remained strong, while businesses have staled on spending. HP reported an 8% fall in sales to $30.8 billion in the last quarter.
The PC division, which contributes a third of HP's revenue but only 15% of operating profit, reflected a slump in numbers as consumers purchased netbooks instead. In the last quarter PC shipments rose 8%, but revenue in the PC division fell 12%.