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Gartner lowers PC forecasts

Weak USA

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Gartner has lowered its forecast for global PC shipments amid weak consumer and business spending in the US.

The analyst firm now expects global PC shipments to hit 185 million units in 2004 - 12.6 per cent more than in 2003. Previously it forecast unit growth of 13.4 per cent.

One reason for the lower forecast has been weaker-than-expected second quarter shipments, said Gartner analyst Kiyomi Yamada. During the April-to-June period, shipments increased 13 per cent, notably below the anticipated 14.1 per cent rise. Weaker consumer spending, especially in the US, hurt second quarter shipments, the firm said.

The business PC market is also a little weaker than previously anticipated, as companies hold off on upgrades while they wait to see if the US economy is going to maintain the momentum of the last few quarters, Gartner said. Periodic upgrades of business computer systems are seen as essential for the industry, which has not seen a mass upgrade cycle since before 2000.

Yamada also noted that higher oil prices could hurt sales, but remained optimistic about the market. "We are still confident that the market will be good for the year," he said.

According to Gartner, Europe and Asia will be stronger than expected in the second half of this year, but this strength would not be enough to offset weakness in the US, Japan and South America. Laptops are still the red hot PC form factor, with global shipments up 20 per cent in the first half, compared to a year ago. Still, even this is down marginally from growth in 2003.

© ENN

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