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IDC bumps up PC forecast

The market researcher says notebook sales and business purchasing have boosted its 2003 PC growth forecast by two points.

Market researcher IDC says notebook sales and business purchasing have boosted its 2003 growth forecast for PC shipments by two points.

The company now predicts that this year's PC shipments, which include desktops, notebooks and servers priced at less than $25,000, will grow by 8.4 percent globally and 7.2 percent in the United States. In June, IDC had predicted that global shipments would increase by 6.3 percent in 2003, compared with 2002, while U.S. shipments would increase by 5.3 percent.

The Framingham, Mass.-based firm, which released a ream of second-quarter data on PC shipments and server revenue over the past week, revised its projection for several reasons, including a large increase in notebook shipments during the second quarter and a return of business PC buying, said Roger Kay, an IDC analyst.

Notebook PC shipments jumped by 22 percent year over year during the second quarter, IDC said Tuesday.

"Notebooks are responsible for a good chunk of the upward revisions. We're seeing what amounts to the follow-through of acceleration in notebook sales that we've been seeing build for a few years now," Kay said.

At the same time, businesses have begun buying PCs again. Many are opting for notebooks, he said.

"What's happening is that when faced with the decision (to upgrade), the corporate guys are deciding to go mobile," Kay said.

IDC now predicts that global PC shipments will reach 148.2 million units in 2003. The U.S. market is expected to come in at nearly 51 million units. IDC's June forecast was for global PC shipments of 145.2 million.

With 2003 now expected to deliver more solid growth, IDC's revised five-year forecast shows a return to fairly steady annual increases in shipments.

IDC now predicts that 2004 shipments will grow by 10.2 percent, both globally and in the United States. Shipments for that year are now expected to reach 163.3 million units worldwide and 56.2 million units in the United States, the company said. However, the global growth prediction for 2004 is a hair below the forecast of 10.3 percent that IDC made in June.

Although unit shipments will continue to increase after 2004, eclipsing the 200 million unit mark in 2007, growth rates will slow between now and then. IDC predicts global PC shipments will grow by 8.8 percent, 7.2 percent and 7.4 percent for 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Ultimately, PC unit shipments in 2003 will show a huge improvement over 2001's 5.1 percent decline and 2002's 1.5 percent increase. But growth in 2003 will be far from the good old days of double-digit increases seen annually throughout the 1990s.

IDC's latest predictions follow a similarly more cheerful forecast from Gartner. Last month, Gartner boosted its previous forecasts and now predicts that global shipments for PCs will grow by 8 percent from 148.1 million units in 2002, to 161.3 million in 2003.

Gartner's figures are higher than IDC's because the two companies differ in the way they track PC shipments.