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Desktops

Gartner: Mixed report on PC sales

The market researcher says unit shipments of PCs worldwide will post a slight uptick in the second quarter, but revises its full-year estimate downward to reflect tough economic times.

    The PC market will post a slight uptick in unit shipments during the second quarter of 2003, but lingering economic uncertainty will continue to weigh on the sector, according to new projections by Gartner Dataquest.

    The technology research firm estimates that worldwide PC shipments will reach 30.7 million units in the second quarter of the year, a 6.4 percent increase from the year-ago period. Gartner projects worldwide revenue to hit about $38.3 billion during the period, up 2.6 percent from last year.

    But Gartner revised its full-year estimates downward for worldwide PC shipments, projecting that they would reach 136.9 million units in 2003, a 6.6 percent increase from 2002. In February, Gartner had estimated that PC shipments would increase by 7.9 percent to 138.7 million units shipped.

    The strength of the PC market now hinges on the timing and pace of the global economic recovery. The economic outlook, however, appears dim.

    Gartner noted that although the U.S-led war in Iraq concluded faster than expected and with fewer damaging economic consequences, the global economy has yet to experience the uplift that many anticipated once the war ended.

    One reason may be the reassertion of the deeper and more fundamental risks to a general economic recovery that were overshadowed by jitters leading up to the war.

    Another reason the global economic recovery has slowed is likely because of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, the highly infectious illness that has disrupted worldwide businesses and forced countries to revise their economic forecasts. Many companies in the affected areas of Asia--such as China, Taiwan and Singapore--have closed their doors or canceled business conferences in the hopes of containing the spread of SARS.

    "The SARS outbreak in Asia is already having an appreciable impact on select economies in the region, and there is a rising danger that the outbreak could significantly impact the entire region if intra-regional trade is severely disrupted," Gartner analyst George Shiffler said in a statement.

    The one bright spot for the PC industry appears to be the mobile segment. Computer and chipmakers view the trend toward creating a mobile work force as a growth opportunity. Gartner said Intel's new mobile processors, the Centrino line of chips, will soon become the choice of large enterprises. Intel launched Centrino in March.

    "However, we do not expect Centrino to boost notebook sales significantly in the short term because its main target, large-scale enterprises, usually take at least three to six months to evaluate new technologies," Shiffler said.

    Microsoft launched a new Windows XP Tablet PC Edition in November, but models running that technology have not made significant inroads into the market yet, according the Gartner. The research firm's preliminary estimates show that Tablet PCs only garnered about 1 percent of the total mobile PC shipments in the first quarter of 2003.