The volume of replacements in the next two years will surpass the number of units replaced in the run-up to Y2K in 1998 and 1999, Gartner said. In 2004, replacement units will drive global shipments to 186.4 million--an increase of 13.6 percent over 2003.
"Our first-quarter results suggest the...replacement cycle that vendors have been anticipating for more than a year is under way," George Shiffler, principal analyst for Gartner's client platforms research, said in a statement.
Gartner analysts said more than 30 percent of installed PCs are now at least three years old. Many of those machines run older versions of Windows operating systems, for which full technical support may not be available. This, they said, will play a major role in pushing sales of replacements. Strong economic growth in the United States, the Asia-Pacific region and Japan is also likely to boost sales of new PCs.
In a, Gartner had said consumer sales would be driven by upgrades to new desktops in order to handle new applications like digital photography or multimedia.
The market researcher said PC shipments for the second quarter of 2004 are projected to increase 14.3 percent from the second quarter of last year.