Businesses have been buying more PCs and the overall outlook for 2004 has improved, but 2005 is going to be a different story, according to IDC.
Research by the analyst shows that commercial PC shipments grew by 17.2 per cent in the second quarter. This was the largest rise since mid 1999, and the fourth consecutive quarter to exceed 13 per cent growth.
At the same time, consumer shipments met expectations for Q2, but growth is expected to slow from almost 20 per cent in the second half of last year to only nine per cent in the second half of this year. Despite this, IDC raised its predicted 2004 shipment growth rate from June's 13.5 per cent to 14.2 per cent.
"The market needs to be careful in interpreting these results," said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker report.
"Strong growth in the Western Europe and Rest of World regions played a significant role in boosting Q2 results, while growth in the US missed forecasts and slipped into single digits.
"Similarly, it's important to note that we've lowered growth expectations for the consumer and portable markets even though projections for overall growth have increased slightly in the short term."
Worldwide unit shipments in the commercial sector are predicted to increase from 113.3 million this year to 126.3 million in 2005, but worldwide growth is expected to drop to 11.5 per cent next year from 15.5 per cent in 2004.
"The tempered forecast of the US market is somewhat in contrast to higher growth elsewhere, particularly in Europe," said Roger Kay, vice-president of client computing at IDC.
"Overall market maturity in the US and uncertainty in political and economic spheres has led us to revise our forecast modestly downward."
However, Martin Breffit, director at PC builder a-sure, disagreed with the predictions. "We have seen a huge growth in orders," he said. "Our shipments are doubling month on month and have been for the past five months. I don't see any slow-up in the generation of business.
"AMD's Athlon 64 is creating a huge amount of interest and Intel has launched the Celeron D. Both manufacturers have recognised the need to introduce a more performance-based range of processors. All indications are that it is going to be a good Christmas and an equally good 2005."
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