PC sales expected to grow 20% this year, IDC says

As netbook shipments slide, desktop and laptop sales will rebound

After a very strong first quarter, global PC sales are expected to see nearly 20% growth in 2010, according to research firm IDC.

Worldwide PC shipments in the first three months of the year were 27.1% higher than sales in the first quarter of 2009, IDC reported. The analyst firm added that it expects strong growth -- albeit slightly less than at the first quarter pace -- for the rest of the year, with global PC shipments for the full year up 19.8% compared to 2009.

IDC noted that an easing of economic troubles, coupled with renewed consumer and corporate buying is giving the PC industry a much-needed boost. And while the once-growing netbook market is slowing, there's been renewed vigor in the desktop market, with that segment of the industry showing its first yearly growth since the second quarter of 2008.

"Beyond continuing with the market recovery, 2010 will be a year filled with new formulations on what constitutes the PC experience," IDC analyst Jay Chou said in a written statement. "New devices such as e-readers and media tablets will pose disruptive challenges to conventional usage models, while opening up intriguing possibilities in consumer and mobile business spaces.

"Aside from brute computing power, the value proposition of the PC will be increasingly measured by the flexibility with which it can meet the demands of content creation and content consumption as well as achieving optimal portability," he added.

IDC isn't alone in its optimistic predictions for 2010.

Last month, analyst firm Gartner Inc. reported that it expects 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 it expects worldwide PC spending to reach $245.4 billion in 2010, up 12% from 2009, as the economy improves.

According to IDC, mainstream laptop sales will lead this year's rebound in both the consumer and corporate segments of the market. Portable PCs should hold a 70% share of all PCs sold by 2012.

IDC's numbers echo similar findings from research firm iSuppli Corp. earlier this month.

Early in June, iSuppli reported that worldwide PC shipments experienced record growth in the first quarter of this year.

Driven by strong sales in Asian markets, the global PC market grew by a whopping 22.7% in the first quarter, marking the highest year-over-year growth in any quarter ever recorded by iSuppli. Shipments in the first quarter totaled 81.5 million units, up from 66.5 million during the same period in 2009, iSuppli noted.

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 sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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