The rethinking of a previous Gartner forecast was mainly due to a spurt expected in mobile PC shipments. The earlier forecast, announced in February, had pegged PC sales for 2005 at 199 million--4 million units more than the 195 million unit shipments projected its rival, IDC.
IDC had in fact lowered its PC forecast in March this year. Its first-quarter analysis, however, showed that emerging markets such as Europe, the Middle East and Asia pushed up sales to beat its projections by 1 percent.
Gartner expects that 26.5 percent more mobile PCs will be sold in the current year, whereas desktop units will straggle at 4.6 percent growth. Portable PCs constitute slightly less than 30 percent of the total PC market.
"Mobile PCs are continuing to attract more new users as mobile prices fall and wireless becomes more pervasive," George Shiffler, Gartner analyst for Client Platforms research, said in a release. "Growing numbers of users are replacing their old desktops with more portable mobiles, and this is one of several factors helping to boost mobile PC growth."
Gartner analysts said they see few new technology drivers that could help stimulate PC sales in 2005. The recent introduction of dual-core processors will mostly attract techies and early adopters, since many applications that take full advantage of dual-core capabilities are still being developed and won't be available until next year at the earliest, said analyst Mikako Kitagawa.
What's more, the machine-replacement activity that helped drive double-digit PC growth over the last two years is also on the decline, the Gartner analysts said.
While professional replacement will peak and then fade through the year, home replacement will gain momentum only early next year. "This one-two punch will push market growth back into single-digits by next year despite stronger mobile PC growth," Shiffler said.