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Record PC shipments in '03

Laptops, govts drive growth

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Strong consumer demand for laptop PCs, as well as an upsurge in demand from the public sector, has driven demand for a record 152 million PCs in 2003.

According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, total PC shipments in 2003 are expected to exceed 152 million. This is 8.8 per cent higher than 2000, the previous highest year for PC shipments.

However, the total value of the shipments is actually 22 per cent lower than the 2000 figure, as aggressive pricing and a shift towards lower-end configurations lower the average unit cost of PCs. The number of units shipped in 2004 is expected to grow at 11.4 per cent in 2004, while the shipment value is expected to grow by four per cent year-on-year.

The growing popularity of laptops among consumer is fuelled by the diminishing price difference between laptops and desktops. The functionality of laptops is now comparable to that of desktops and also laptops are perceived to be more fashionable than desktops.

Finally, advances in wireless technology mean that consumers can use their laptops in different locations, thus making laptops even more adaptable. But this trend may not continue in the medium term as new technologies emerge that have not been optimised for laptops.

"The convergence of price and performance between laptops and desktops is not a steady trend," said Roger Kay. "Performance and price will diverge again as new technology emerges."

He predicts that there will always be a market for desktops in situations where the computer is not meant to be moved, such as in offices or factory shop floors. He also pointed out that the Chinese PC market has shown a distinct preference for desktop computers.

The overall surge in demand is taking place in every region of the world. In the US and Europe, demand is driven by the consumer and government sectors and this demand is expected to be continued in 2004. Although the Japanese market was fairly strong in the third quarter, it was only in comparison to the poor figures from the same quarter of 2002. Nevertheless, IDC predicts double-digit growth in this market in 2004.

In the Asia-Pacific region, PC shipments are still recovering from the effects of the SARS virus, but the survey predicted double-digit growth in this region in 2004 also.

Although the commercial sector has not yet participated in the market upswing, this is expected to change.

"We're sort of seeing an upswing in the commercial sector already, particularly in the SME sector," said Kay. "We expect to see participation by the large corporate sector in 2004."

Copyright © 2003, Electric News

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