While some areas of the business software market hit a soft spot in the second quarter, worldwide PC shipments arere still showing double-digit growth, according to market researchers IDC and Gartner.
Driven by demand for replacement PCs from business users, a total of 42.8 million PCs were shipped worldwide in the second quarter, 13.3 per cent more than in the year-earlier period, Gartner said. The growth was in line with expectations.
"Business demand is one of the key factors in 2004 to drive growth," vice-president of Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group, Charles Smulders, said. "The installed base [of PCs] is quite old. Businesses delayed replacements during the economic downturn and are now replacing those older machines,"
IDC, meanwhile, calculated PC shipment growth at 15 per cent over the same period, to 39.7 million units, beating its expectations.
PC replacements, particularly of desktop systems, continued to be helped by aggressive prices, IDC said.
IDC and Gartner cover the market in largely the same way, although Gartner includes certain types of system that IDC excludes.
Dell retained its position as market leader both worldwide and in the US, according to both research companies. They also agreed that HP and IBM were the world's second and third largest vendors, respectively, in terms of units shipped.
The smallest of the top five PC vendors, Acer, again recorded the biggest growth.
The company had been successful at selling low-cost portable computers in Europe and saw growth in desktop sales in both Europe and Asia, IDC said.
Gartner expects PC shipments for the full year to come in about 13 per cent higher than in 2003. However, if the political and economic environments were to worsen, PC sales could also suffer, Smulders said.
"I think economic and political factors will have a large influence on the final outcome," he said. "Some of the economic news that we have seen over the past few months does concern me."
IDC's full-year 2004 forecast calls for 13.5 per cent growth.
The better-than-expected results for the second quarter should offset a slight slowdown that might occur in the second half of the year, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, Loren Loverde, said.
"There have been some comments by component players that maybe growth is going to slow and some wariness about the strength of commercial demand," Loverde said. "Our view is that the recent results point to solid demand. At this stage we would not lower our full-year forecast; we don't think the caution in the market is significant enough to lower it."