Emerging markets still offer the best pickings for PC manufacturers as they continue to buck the growth trends seen in mature markets.
Worldwide, PC shipments are forecast to total 255,7-million units in 2007, a 10,5% increase from 2006, while PC revenue is projected to reach $213,7-billion, a 4,6% increase, according to the latest forecast by Gartner.
"We expect the market environment to be much the same over the near term as it has been recently," says George Shiffler, research director for Gartner Dataquest's Client Platforms Markets Group. "Emerging markets and mobile PCs will continue to afford PC vendors their best opportunities for growth. However, falling average selling prices (ASPs), slowing replacement activity and further declines in mature market desk-based PC shipments will keep PC vendors under pressure to rationalise their operations or exit the market."
Gartner analysts says PC shipments will enjoy, at best, a limited boost from the release of Microsoft¹s new operating system, Vista.
"Vista's effect on PC shipments ultimately depends on the number of consumers and small (and midsize) businesses (SMBs) that find its new features compelling enough to buy a new PC," says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner Dataquest's Client Computing Markets Group. "While Vista includes a number of interesting features, these features just don't have enough Omust have¹ appeal with the average home and SMB user to spark a significant rush of new PC sales."
Gartner analysts expect a minor increase in sales to the small number of consumers and SMBs that put off replacing their older systems in anticipation of Vista's release. However, the vast majority of consumers and SMBs are expected to adopt the new OS as they gradually replace existing machines during the next several years.
While Vista¹s impact on PC sales will be relatively limited, Vista uptake by consumers and SMBS that do buy new PCs will be strong, the report adds.
"Consumers and SMBs in mature markets would be hard-pressed to find a new PC with Windows XP," says Annette Jump, research director for Gartner Dataquest's Client Computing Markets Group. "This will naturally speed Vista's adoption among consumers and SMBs. If you consider that Window Vista Home Premium is priced higher than Windows XP Home, Microsoft could enjoy very good results from Vista if large numbers of consumers opt for the premium edition. PC vendors could also benefit if they are able pass this cost increase onto consumers in the form of higher PC prices."
Vista is forecast to have almost no impact on PC shipments to larger businesses in 2007. And Vista adoption among large business is expected lag behind consumers and SMBs. With large businesses, the issue is not so much a lack of must-have features as it is the insistence of large enterprise IT managers that the new operating system be thoroughly tested and validated against established applications before it is widely deployed. Gartner analysts expect large businesses to delay widespread adoption of Vista until at least of middle of next year – about the time they are expected to begin a new replacement cycle.