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Gartner: PC Shipments to Slow to 3.8 Percent Growth in 2011

September 8, 2011

Worldwide PC growth is on pace to total 352 million units in 2011, a 3.8 percent increase from 2010, according to the latest preliminary forecast by Gartner. PC shipments are forecast to see better growth by the end 2012, when units are expected to reach 404 million units, a 10.9 percent increase from 2011.

PC unit growth for 2011 and 2012 has been reduced from previous projections: from 9.3 percent growth for 2011 and from 12.8 percent growth for 2012. The lower outlook for 2011 PC growth is largely due to downgraded forecasts for Western Europe and the United States in the second half of the year. The lower outlook for 2012 is the result of a weaker 2011, and also a slower start to 2012 — with an expectation for better growth in the second half of next year as economies stabilize and new mobile PC form factors enter the market.

Even so, the slowdown in the market is notable: Total unit shipments in 2012 are expected to barely reach 400 million units, which was originally a target for 2011.

“Western Europe is not only struggling through excess PC inventory, but economic upheaval as well,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “U.S. consumer PC shipments were much weaker than expected in the second quarter, and indications are that back-to-school PC sales are disappointing. An increasing pessimistic economic outlook is causing both consumer and business sentiment to deteriorate in both regions. We’re expecting consumer spending to tighten in response. Business spending will also tighten, but less than the consumer space.”

Gartner analysts said that while PCs remain important to consumers and businesses, purchases can be easily delayed, especially when there are complementary devices that are seen to be more attractive.

“More worrisome for the long term is that Generation Y has an altogether different view of client devices than older generations and are not buying PCs as their first, or necessarily main, device,” Atwal said. “For older buyers, today’s PCs are not a particularly compelling product, so they continue to extend lifetimes, as PC shops and IT departments repair rather than replace these systems.”

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