Worldwide PC shipments are expected to make quite a comeback this year, rebounding after several down years when the economy struggled.
Research firm Gartner Inc. today said that it projects that global PC shipments will total 376.6 million units in 2010, up 22% from the 308.3 million units shipped last year. Gartner also said that it expects worldwide PC spending to reach $245.4 billion in 2010, up 12% from 2009, as the economy improves.
"PC demand in the consumer segment continues to strengthen even though the global economy remains uncertain," said Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal in a statement. "Consumers are now viewing PCs as necessities rather than luxury items. In the downturn, PCs remained the electronic device of choice on which to spend household income in mature markets, and we do not expect this to change either in 2010 or beyond."
Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research, said he expects the PC business to grow even faster than Gartner is projecting.
"There are a lot of old PCs out there," he said. "You can reasonably argue that upgrading will save you money relatively soon."
Gottheil said there's a convergence of factors pushing PC shipments this year. "Economic recovery. Pent-up demand. Windows 7. And if memory prices resume their decline, PC prices will fall as well," he said. "While falling prices will eat into revenue increases, the lower prices will drive larger volumes, netting larger revenue increases."
Gartner did note that it doesn't expect the netbook business to continue growing at its current 30% rate. Gartner said netbook shipments will be affected by decreases in mobile PC prices and by an expected increase in the popularity of tablet devices, like Apple's iPad.
Last month, research firm IDC reported that PC makers sold 24.2% more machines in the first quarter of 2010 than they did in the same period last year. A year earlier, first-quarter PC shipments were 9% lower than they were in the same period the year before.
The sales increases of the last two quarters came after a series of quarterly declines that began in the third quarter of 2008, according to IDC.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com.