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Gartner Forecasts Better-Than-Expected PC Shipments

Gartner reported a better-than-expected first quarter for PC shipments and is now forecasting a healthy market recovery in 2010, according to a statement.

"We may have been a little pessimistic in our previous forecast for 2009," said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner, in a telephone interview. "We expected a very bad first quarter, but it didn't happen. Looking at it, consumer demand was much greater than expected."

The bump in shipments may be temporary, however, because it was attributed mostly to a restocking of inventory by distribution channels.

"It may be temporary, and, in fact, we are forecasting the second and third quarters to be lower than the first," Shiffler said. "But things are probably going to get better. [Distribution channels] wouldn't be restocking if they didn't think things were going to get better."

The report noted that "mini-notebooks" helped drive the consumer side, even though the space recorded its first quarter-over-quarter decline to date. Shiffler said the gaining popularity of the smaller computing devices is owing mostly to price.

"I'm not sure there's anything unique about mini-notebooks except that they are more affordable than higher-end machines," Shiffler said. "There has been a lot of hype about them, and in these economic times they make sense for a lot of people. But there will always be users that require more functionality than those types of units can provide."

Shiffler said that while they are declining in popularity, desktop machines will not be going away any time soon.

"There are a lot of functions that are just done better on PCs, and there's still a great pool of users that need desktop functionality," he said. "The challenge in the long term to traditional PCs will likely be in thin client machines that tap a server or cloud service for functionality."

The report noted that PC shipments were better than expected in all markets except for Eastern Europe, and that consumer shipments were stronger than business shipments. Gartner reported it expects to see positive growth in PCs in the fourth quarter and a 10.3 percent gain next year.

"I think the PC market will continue to chug along with more quality improvements and continued pressure on vendors to lower the price," Shiffler said. "What the industry needs is a jolt. There's just no killer app out there on the horizon that will cause a quantum jump in sales."

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media. You can contact Herb here.

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