Replacement purchases will drive worldwide PC shipments to 186.4 million units in 2004, a 13.6 percent increase from 2003, according to a preliminary second quarter forecast by Gartner.
Gartner analysts expect that almost 100 million PCs will be replaced in 2004 and nearly 120 million more in 2005.
The volume of replacements this year and next year will surpass the number of systems replaced in the run-up to Y2K in 1998 and 1999.
"Our first quarter results suggest that the Y2K replacement cycle that vendors have been anticipating for more than a year is under way," says George Shiffler, principal analyst for Gartner's client platforms research.
"More than 30 percent of installed PCs are now at least three years old. Many, if not most of these PCs, are using older Windows operating systems (OS) that are no longer supported or are about to lose full technical support. Expiring OS support will play a significant role in driving PC replacements going forward."
Healthy global economic growth is also expected to boost new PC sales.
"Recent economic forecasts anticipate even stronger growth throughout 2004 for the U.S., Asia-Pacific and Japan, despite persistently high oil prices and the threat of increased geopolitical uncertainty," says Kiyomi Yamada, industry analyst for Gartner's client platforms research.
"Stronger economic growth will almost certainly influence PC sales for the rest of 2004."
PC shipments for the second quarter of 2004 are projected to increase by 14.3 percent from the second quarter of last year.