Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Market Shift Slows PC Growth Before 2012 Acceleration

PC growth is slowing as buyers turn to tablets, but that could change by next year as PCs improve and prices drop. IDC has reduced its forecast for PC shipments to just 4.2 percent this year as tablet sales soar 350 percent. But demand for both consumer and professional PCs should rise to double digits between 2012 and 2015, IDC says.

IDC expects worldwide PC Relevant Products/Services shipments to rise just 4.2 percent this year -- down from its February forecast of 7.1 percent. Among other things, the research firm's analysts blamed the downward revision on an increasingly conservative economic outlook as well as heightened consumer interest in media tablets in mature markets such as North America and Europe.

IDC forecasts that 44.6 million media tablets will ship in 2011 -- equivalent to a growth rate of nearly 350 percent in comparison with the 12.8 million tablets that shipped worldwide last year. This robust growth is expected to have a negative impact this year on the mini-notebook Relevant Products/Services market segment -- the key PC growth driver in 2009.

"Consumers are recognizing the value of owning and using multiple intelligent devices and, because they already own PCs, they're now adding smartphones, media tablets, and e-readers to their device Relevant Products/Services collections," said IDC Vice President Bob O'Donnell. "And this has shifted the technology share Relevant Products/Services of wallet onto other connected devices."

Double-Digit Growth Ahead

This year's first-quarter PC shipments were down 1.1 percent from the same period last year, with a decline of 4.4 percent in consumer shipments only partially offset by a three percent growth in professional Relevant Products/Services purchases. Furthermore, the relatively strong growth in last year's second quarter is likely to dampen year-over-year comparisons with the quarter currently under way, IDC's analysts noted.

Nevertheless, the research firm anticipates significant growth in both consumer and commercial market segments during the second half of this year and beyond. Among other things, the combination of falling PC prices with more advanced next-generation hardware Relevant Products/Services and software Relevant Products/Services is expected to make PCs more attractive.

PC adoption by new users in emerging regions -- together with replacement sales in more mature markets -- should be significant enough to help drive double-digit growth between 2012 and 2015, noted IDC Vice President Loren Loverde.

"The PC market has definitely hit a slow patch," Loverde said. "Nevertheless, the long-term growth drivers -- first among which are growth in emerging markets, declining prices, and growing functionality -- remain intact, and the product and design innovations underway will keep PC growth healthy in the long term."

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