IDC has predicted that although worldwide PC shipments over the next two years are unlikely to match figures for 2003, the forecast is still one of double-digit growth through 2005.
Worldwide PC shipments are now expected to grow 11.4% in 2004, and 11.2% in 2005, compared with a 11.7% growth rate in 2003 with 154.5 million units.
"This is not the growth rate of the late 1990s, but it's still pretty healthy," said Roger Kay, vice president of client computing for IDC. "The late 1990s was a period of accumulation and we're now past that point."
Beyond 2005, growth in worldwide PC shipments is projected to slow to about 8% through 2008. Shipment value is expected to grow by more than 5% for the next two years, followed by growth of roughly 3% through 2008.
Interest in laptops and wireless technology, from both the consumer and enterprise sectors, is a driving factor in the market's growth worldwide, but particularly in the US and Western Europe.
"Wireless is becoming a check-box item for businesses," said Kay. "Part of the reason for that is because enterprises are having to deal with employees who are doing wireless on their own at home, which does raise some security issues for companies."
In 2004, 172.1 million units are expected to ship worldwide, with the US accounting for 58.5 million of those units. The worldwide commercial sector in 2004 can expect shipments of 109.9 million units, a growth rate of 12.1%, while the consumer sector is forecast to have 62.1 million units shipped on a 10.2% yearly growth rate.
US demand for laptops is projected to rise by 30% over the next two years, growth that will more than offset an expected decline in public sector spending, partly as a result of this year's US presidential election.
"Election years throw funny things into IT spending projections. For example, questions about future tax polices become an issue," Kay said, adding that spending in the government sector is expected to drop, especially in the areas of education and federal spending.
In other regions, both consumer and business demand in Western Europe will remain strong into 2005 because of rapid portables adoption and improving price points. "Western Europe is forecast to be slightly stronger than the US in 2004, although that will, most likely, reverse in 2005," Kay said.
IDC projected growth in the PC market in Japan, which is expected to rise from 2.8% in 2003 to around 6% in 2004 and 2005, while the Asia-Pacific region in general will remain in double digits throughout the period.
"China is really the engine in the region, although India is becoming very interesting and also showing strong growth," Kay said. "The Asia-Pacific market was under-penetrated but is now in full swing."
Laura Rohde writes for IDG News Service