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IDC revises PC forecast as recovery stalls

Market research firm IDC lowered its forecast for 2003 PC shipment growth again yesterday.

Economic recovery has been slower than expected, and the Sars outbreak in Asia had affected PC purchases as people stayed home.

IDC now expects PC shipments to grow 6.3% to 145.2 million units worldwide in 2003, down from the 6.9% growth predicted in March. That number had been downgraded from last December's expectations of 8.3% growth, which was lowered after a drop-off in public sector spending.

"We are seeing a recovery now, it's just not a very robust recovery," said Roger Kay, vice president of client computing for IDC.

The public sector weakness is expected to continue in the US, but consumers are expected to pick up the slack. PC shipments to consumers in the US are expected to grow 10.8% in 2003, compared with 6.5% growth worldwide.

However, IDC predicted stronger corporate demand for PCs worldwide during the rest of 2003, with growth of 6.2% expected, compared with corporate shipment growth of 2.3% in the US.

Worldwide, unit shipments are expected to regain the losses suffered since the economic downturn began in 2000. In 2000, 140.1 million units were shipped, according to IDC, falling to a low of 134.6 million in 2001.

The effect of Sars in China appears to be easing, but it was responsible for holding down consumer purchases as people stayed home. One side effect of the outbreak is a tilt toward direct internet PC purchases in China away from retail purchases.

Shipments to businesses in western Europe are expected to grow 3.9% up from flat growth in the fourth quarter of 2002, IDC said. But in Japan, a weak consumer market for PCs is expected to result in a 1.2% decline in PC shipments to Japan.

Even as unit shipment growth regains some momentum, revenue is expected to decline in 2003. The total shipment value of PCs will decrease 2.4% in 2003 as the average selling price of a PC continues to fall.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service


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