Predicted growth in global PC shipments has dropped to 4.2 per cent for 2011, down from a February forecast of 7.1 per cent, according to the latest figures from IDC.
Its Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker research revealed that a melting pot of declining Q1 shipments, an increasingly conservative economic outlook, saturation among developed market consumers and competing products will lead to slow growth this year.
However, on a more positive note, it is predicting a ‘rebound’ in 2012, with growth between 10 and 11 per cent through to 2015. IDC said consumer PC purchases have been a 'cornerstone’ of PC growth over the past five years, with a transition to low-cost portables helping to drive new sales by new users in emerging markets, as well as replacement/refresh sales in mature markets.
Consumer PC shipment growth averages 18.9 per cent between 2005 and 2007 – nearly seven per cent faster than commercial shipments.
During 2008 and 2009, consumer growth hit 21 per cent (mainly attributed to the netbook craze), while commercial growth fell below three per cent in 2008 and plummeted to –10.5 per cent during the 2009 recession.
However, netbooks quickly saturated the market and buyers became aware of their limitations and were tempted away with the rise of the tablet, IDC claimed, with mainstream notebooks and media tablets increasing by 31 million and 17.9 million units in 2010 respectively, compared with just 1.3 million units for netbooks.
Bob O’Donnell, vice president of clients and displays at IDC, said: “Consumers are recognising the value of owning and using multiple intelligent devices, and because they already own PCs, they're now adding smart phones, media tablets and eReaders to their device collections. And this has shifted the technology share onto other connected devices."
In 2011, Q1 PC shipments were down 1.1 per cent from the previous year, with consumer shipments dropping 4.4 per cent, particularly in developed markets such as Western Europe, the US and Canada.
But IDC is still predicting significant growth in both consumer and commercial markets to continue beyond 2011, fuelled by new designs, chips, operating systems, features and services, along with falling prices.
Despite incursions by smartphones and media tablets, PCs have a large user base and ecosystem, and continue to represent the most comprehensive and affordable computing platform, the analyst said.
On top of this, adoption by new users in emerging regions, as well as replacements in more mature markets, will continue to drive double-digit growth through the end of the forecast.
Loren Loverde, vice president of worldwide consumer device trackers at IDC, said: "The PC market has definitely hit a slow patch. Nevertheless, the long-term growth drivers – first among which are growth in emerging markets, declining prices and growing functionality – remain intact, and the product and design innovations underway will keep PC growth healthy in the long term."
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