If the recession isn't over for the PC industry, a recovery certainly seems at hand. Worldwide PC shipments are expected to total 376.6 million units in 2010, according to Gartner. That's a 22 percent increase from the year-ago period.
Of course, shipments are one thing, revenues are another. But there's also good news there. Gartner estimates worldwide PC spending will reach $245.4 billion in 2010. That's up a healthy 12 percent from 2009, and it's driven, in large part, by the home PC market. The home PC market will post nearly 30 percent growth this year compared to 13.1 percent growth in the business market.
"PC demand in the consumer segment continues to strengthen even though the global economy remains uncertain. Consumers are now viewing PCs as necessities rather than luxury items," said Ranjit Atwal, principal research analyst at Gartner. "In the downturn, PCs remained the electronic device of choice on which to spend household income in mature markets, and we do not expect this to change either in 2010 or beyond."
Replacing Old PCs
Companies that have been holding out through the recession may be about ready to spend on PCs. Indeed, Atwal said aging PCs will drive replacements in that market. In fact, he said, organizations will find it tougher to further extend PC life cycles without incurring more costs.
Atwal said this, together with the adoption of Windows 7, will generate robust demand in the professional market. Larger businesses expect to start replacements in the second half of 2010, Atwal said, with the majority replaced in 2011. He now expects Windows 7 migration to last through 2012. But there is some uncertainty around PC refreshes in corporate settings.
"A lot of the folks I've spoken to are talking about using Windows 7 as a way to extend the life of their PCs. Also, it's not clear if they are going to deploy PCs the same way they have done in the past," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "Companies like BP are deploying PCs without pulling along the services revenue, which would alter the revenue makeup of at least some of the larger PC vendors."
Then there's the impact of netbooks and tablets. Gartner has pegged mini-notebook growth to continue rapidly, though there are signs the market may slow down. Worldwide, Gartner expects mini-notebook shipments to reach 41.8 million units in 2010. That's a 30 percent increase over last year. In all, mini-notebooks will make up 18.6 percent of mobile PC shipments in 2010, Gartner said, and eventually fall to 13.9 percent in 2014.
"The mini-notebook segment will be impacted by increasingly competitive ultra-low-voltage products, the decreasing prices of all mobile PCs, and the maturing preferences of consumers," said Raphael Vasquez, research analyst at Gartner. "Some consumers purchased mini-notebooks based solely on price. Many consumers are now choosing purchases up the price curve rather than at the bottom of it."
Part of that mini-notebook decline might be due to the rise of tablets. Although tablets won't impact the mini-notebook segment this year, Vasquez said Apple's iPad and similar devices will significantly detract from mini-notebook shipments in 2013 and onward as prices come down and functionality more closely mirrors mini-notebooks. Gartner expects about 10 million media tablets to ship in 2010.