PC industry emerges from recession and returns to growth

17 Dec 2009

Buoyed by strong back-to-school demand, worldwide PC shipments returned to growth in the third quarter with an increase of 2.3pc after three previous quarters of decline. The industry is expected to see double-digit growth rates by 2013.

Consumer portables remained the key driver, with shipments increasing 33.5pc from a year ago, while consumer desktop demand remained weak as the market continued its transition to mobility.

The decline of commercial PCs also started to slow in Q3, providing a hint that IT spending will gradually pick up in upcoming quarters.

Netbooks up

Mini notebooks or netbooks continued to see strong growth with a 37pc gain over the previous quarter, while the mini notebook share of consumer portables increased to 28pc from 14pc a year ago.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, the strong showing in Q3 and growth in key segments will lead to net growth of 1.3pc for 2009 and set the stage for further gains throughout the forecast period.

Looking forward, the market is expected to quicken the pace of growth in 2010. Emerging regions, which now account for half of the total market, will lead the way with double-digit growth for 2010 while mature markets are also expected to make steady gains.

“Vendors are competing aggressively to capture back-to-school and holiday demand,” said Jay Chou, research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

“Beyond stabilising their business, PC vendors are trying to position themselves for gains as the market recovers. We’re seeing aggressive promotions and expect innovations leveraging new technologies, including ultra-thin designs, touchscreens, and LED panels.

“The technology changes and efforts to stand out in an increasingly commoditised market will lead to further product and customer segmentation and add to the advantage of market leaders in covering the breadth of products, technologies and market segments.” Chou said.

Looking ahead

Desktop shipments will be roughly flat in 2010, while portable PC growth of 18.1pc will continue to drive overall volume gains. The commercial sector is expected to rebound in the second half of 2010.

Mini notebooks will continue to grow, but at a slower rate, as the introduction of new ultra-thin portables will generate new growth points and limit the share captured by mini notebooks.

“Once again, the PC market shows its resiliency,” said Loren Loverde, program director IDC Worldwide Trackers.

“The speed of market stabilisation and growth in key segments reflect the essential role of personal computing today. Technology evolution and falling prices remain a compelling combination. As commercial spending recovers in 2010, we expect to see robust growth over the next several years.”

An aging installed base of PCs to replace, along with government aid and declining average selling prices, are key ingredients in a recipe for resurgence of PC shipments into the commercial market segment, explained Richard Shim, research manager for PCs at IDC.

“The combination of a recovering commercial market and a healthy consumer market will lead to double-digit shipment growth through 2013,” Shim said.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The market for netbooks is expected to quicken the pace of growth in 2010.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years