PC shipments to grow 4.8% in first quarter

PC suppliers will ship 33.2 million units worldwide in the first quarter of 2003, up 4.8% from the same period last year, analyst...

PC suppliers will ship 33.2 million units worldwide in the first quarter of 2003, up 4.8% from the same period last year, analyst firm Gartner Dataquest has predicted.

The market is expected to rebound later in the year as businesses start replacing PCs bought in the late 1990s as part of investments to fix Year 2000 (Y2K) problems. Full-year shipments are expected to reach 138.7 million units, up 7.9% compared with 2002.

Dataquest was more optimistic than Merrill Lynch, which last week reduced its full-year 2003 PC shipment growth estimate to 137.6 million units, or 5% growth, compared with 7% growth last year.

Demand for PCs is still weak and uncertainties about war and economic recovery dampen consumer confidence as well as corporate PC purchases, Dataquest said.

PCs bought in the late 1990s would normally have been replaced by now, but some users want to stretch PC lives to five years, Merrill Lynch said. Increasingly, instead of buying new PCs, users are upgrading old ones with new components, Dataquest said.

Some companies also had unused systems because of employees that were laid off. These systems are now being reused to a greater degree than in the past.

The worldwide PC market showed double-digit shipment growth until 2000, when 134.5 million units were shipped. The number of shipments then dropped 4.2% in 2001 to 128.9 million units. Meagre growth returned in 2002 with a 1.7% increase and total shipments of 131 million units, according to Merrill Lynch.

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