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IDC raises PC forecast

Market research firm IDC has raised its PC forecast for the remainder of 2003, citing increased sales of notebooks and some signs of life within corporate purchasing departments for the rise.

The forecast had been for 6.3% growth in shipments for 2003, but IDC bumped that up two points to a forecast of 8.4% growth worldwide compared with 2002, said Roger Kay, vice president of client computing for IDC.

The renewed strength of the US and the recovery of Asia from the Sars epidemic earlier this year have lifted expectations for the overall PC market, Kay said. The SARS virus had a limited impact on PC purchases in Asia, which still remains the region with the strongest growth, he said.

As reported earlier this week, shipments of notebooks are surging, as both consumers and businesses replace their old PCs with notebooks that offer performance as well as mobility.

"Notebooks have always had advantages, but had two real disadvantages in performance and cost. But the performance gap between notebooks and desktops isn't as important as it used to be, since both have sufficient performance for most people. And the cost of notebooks has gone down dramatically," Kay said.

The price of notebooks with Intel's Centrino package of the Pentium M processor and a wireless chip will fall to mainstream levels - a little over $1,000 - by the end of the year, Kay said. Microsoft Corp. has indicated that a number of aggressively priced notebooks with the Windows XP Media Center operating system will be rolled out later this year.

Although they no longer get the glory, desktop PC exceeded IDC's shipment expectations in the second quarter. However, the forecasts for desktop growth over the next few years remain fairly modest.

IDC had reduced its forecast for PC growth twice this year, on fears of a dropoff in public sector spending and prolonged weakness from the Sars outbreak soured expectations in March and June.

Gartner also raised its worldwide PC shipment forecast in August to 8.9% growth for 2003, up from expectations of 7.2%.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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