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Gartner: PC sales to pick up by end of the year

Shipments will be down 6 percent this year compared to 2008, but positive growth is expected for 2010.

After more than a year of doom-and-gloom PC market forecasts, things are looking up.

Market research analyst firm Gartner predicts that the fourth quarter of this year will bring the beginning of a rebound that will gain momentum next year. With a stronger fourth quarter, the industry is on pace to move 274 million PCs worldwide this year. While that's still a 6 percent drop from last year's total shipments of 292 million units, it's not as bad as once thought. Earlier this year, Gartner was predicting a 9.2-percent decline for the year.

Gartner says next year's shipments will swing into positive territory, predicting growth of 10.3 percent. But its analysts say it's too soon to assume the worst is over. People are still delaying purchases while the overall economic outlook remains uncertain.

Customers will begin buying again, but not until later this year, and picking up through 2010 and 2011, according to Gartner Research Director George Shiffler. He also cautioned that the first wide availability of Windows 7 won't spur as many new sales as may be expected.

"Although the buzz surrounding Windows 7 has generally been quite positive, we don't expect the market to significantly deviate from its normal seasonal trends in reaction to its release," Shiffler said in a statement. "Unless Microsoft mounts a major marketing campaign in support of Windows 7, we think consumers will simply adopt the new operating system as they would normally buy new PCs and/or replace old ones. As for professional users, we still expect them to put off adopting the new OS for at least a year until they have fully tested their applications against it."