Gartner’s recent report on the global PC Industry paints an encouraging picture for PC vendors through 2010, with an estimated increase in shipments to increase by 19,7% over 2009.

This growth will, largely, be driven by growth in mobile computer segments and mainstreaming of a number of new technologies, which are both poised to see the emergence of new product categories, and the death of others.
This is according to Reon Coetzee, regional sales manager for Toshiba Southern Africa , who also says that demand from consumers for multimedia access devices is set to increase, while businesses will begin to refresh their aging fleets of desktop and notebook computers.
“From a consumer perspective, there has been a lot of movement in the South African market, particularly with regard to Internet connectivity,” Coetzee says.
“Drops in bandwidth pricing and the introduction of cheaper uncapped ADSL accounts means that consumers will be accessing the Internet more often, and consuming more digital content than they could previously download on limited ADSL accounts.
“But just having the media on a hard drive isn’t enough. And, as a result, consumers will start looking for what we refer to as access devices, which can easily connect to the Internet to download content, are powerful enough to play high definition video and audio, and have the ability to connect to a LCD-TV for the whole family to enjoy,” he says.
It’s estimated that by 2013, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the most common Internet and media access devices worldwide.  As a result, this drive from consumers wanting to enjoy their media on-the-go, will be what makes mobile media devices into “the next big thing”.
These access devices can range from media gateways, external hard drives and even touch-screen tablets/slates, which are set to become a new category of mobile computer altogether.
From a business perspective, Coetzee says IT infrastructure seems to be making a complete u-turn, going back to the days of terminal computing.  Lighter devices, that incorporate fewer resources like smaller hard drives and less memory, are being deployed to desktops, while the real muscle is being built in the data centre and in the Internet cloud.
“As the four-to-five year corporate IT refresh cycle begins to take shape, particularly now that the global downturn is freeing up budget to do so,” he explains. "We can expect an increase in the number of mobile devices, desktop replacement computers and, particularly, ultra-low-voltage (ULV) PCs making it into the corporate sector.
“Virtualisation, cloud services, employees utilising personal desktop computers and software as a service have all reduced the need for heavy processing and storage resources to be deployed to desktops.  As a result, there’s a similar shift to investing in access devices happening in the business sector as is happening in the consumer space.”
According to Gartner, by 2012, 20% of global businesses will own no IT assets as a result of these interrelated trends.
Also driving the growth in mobile devices (notebooks, mobile phones and tablets) is the increasing prevalence of online shopping and mobile transacting services.  Gartner suggests that by 2014, more than 3-billion of the world’s adult population will be able to transact electronically via mobile devices and the Internet.
“Given the emergent mobile and online payments landscape in South Africa, we expect mobile devices to be an important growth sector for technology vendors locally,” Coetzee points out.
“The local PC market is heating up again and with big announcements having already been made by Microsoft and Intel last year – with Windows 7 and the Core i processor family respectively – we can expect a rapid acceleration not only in hardware capabilities, but also the development of applications that just make using technology so much easier and enjoyable.
“Today, it’s not so much about what your technology can do; it’s how you use it that matters.  And now that we’re back on an upward growth trend, it’s time for organisations and individuals to pick up the pace and find great ways to put all this technology to work,” he says.