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Proof that notebooks are the future comes in a new IDC forecast which predicts that laptops will surpass desktops to become the most popular type of PC by 2011. According to IDC, bulky beige boxes are out and slick, shiny new notebooks are in as far as consumers are concerned, and it's a trend that's likely to continue to grow going forward.

In fact, IDC predicts that the market for notebooks will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.1 percent from 2006 until 2011, compared to a miserly 3.8 percent CAGR for desktop PCs. The result of this is that portable PCs will represent more than 50 percent of all client PCs worldwide in 2011.

The move away from desktops is already evident in IDC's latest figures. These show that more that 82.4 million portable PCs were shipped in 2006, a rise of 26.3 per cent. At the same time, 138.3 million desktops were sold, a rise of just two per cent versus 2005.

"Slower growth in desktops and in relatively mature regions changes the market dynamics a bit," said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

"A strong portable offering is becoming more important, and while local players have a larger share of international markets, the shift to portables will favour the largest players. Portables are picking up some of the slack from desktops and will benefit from improved security, power management, and new designs supported by Vista. While more replacements and Vista adoption may provide a brief respite for desktops in 2008, essentially all desktop growth will occur in emerging regions," Loverde added.

Overall, worldwide PC shipments totalled 64.7 million units in the fourth quarter of 2006, up 7.3 per cent compared to the same three-month period in 2005. This was slightly slower than the past several quarters, and down from more than 15 per cent in 2004 and 2005

For the full year, 227 million units were shipped, with growth of 9.5 per cent and shipment value of $231.9bn.

According to the report, the role of emerging markets is growing. Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) and Rest of World (including Latin America, Canada, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) represented more than 50 per cent of desktop PC shipments in 2006 and will represent more than 50 per cent of all worldwide PC shipments in 2011. ®

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