The PC sector could be on the way to permanent recovery, thanks largely to white box builders.
The news comes as Merrill Lynch revised its forecasts for the year upwards and Intel upped its third-quarter financial expectations for the second time in two weeks.
Merrill Lynch revised its own forecasts based on a number of criteria, chief among them the decision by Gartner Dataquest to restate its figures for the size and value of the 2002 PC industry after including figures for white box builders.
Gartner said that sales for 2002 now stood at $192bn instead of £164bn, and that units should have been 151 billion, not 131 billion.
Steven Milunovich, Merrill Lynch's global technology strategist, said: "To reflect both higher previous estimates and an improving market, we are raising our PC forecasts.
"We had predicted unit growth of five per cent in 2003 and 10 per cent in 2004. We now look for seven per cent this year and 11 per cent next year.
"Revenue is more affected, with our previous forecast of minus one per cent in 2003 and plus two per cent in 2004, moving up to plus four per cent this year and plus eight per cent next year. Most of the increase is in white boxes."
Matthew Wilkins, senior analyst at iSuppli, said: "The impact of the white box sector is not that surprising.
"The feeling is that people are wising up to the fact that what they get in a white box is exactly the same as they get in a Hewlett-Packard or Dell box, but often at a far more competitive price. This is an area that we see ramping up in importance.
"Overall, we certainly see things changing, but it's too early to say that it is a massive upshift. Looking at Intel raising its financial expectations is a sign that things could be on the up."
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