PC Growth Looking Strong
Button said growth in PC shipments looks strong for 2004. "Right now, we are observing 16 percent year-over-year growth rates worldwide, with 50 percent of the growth coming from emerging markets, and 80 percent of that 50 percent coming from just four countries: Russia, China, India and Brazil," he said. While average selling prices for PCs declined 8 percent from 2001 to 2003, desktop profitability rose during the same period. Notebook sales were outperforming desktop sales, with "thin and light" notebook growth dominating both the business and consumer markets.Opportunities also lie within the premium markets, Button said, where Microsoft and its hardware partners can evangelize compelling new usage scenarios, innovate and extend the Windows PC platform, drive demand for custom PCs and reignite the enthusiast community. Click here to read about Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard revealing updated concepts of consumer and business PCs, plus a glimpse into the future of the Media PC. "Premium Windows PC market opportunities currently available include 64-bit computing, our Media Center and the Tablet PC," Button said. "We are driving these initiatives today, and we see 64-bit computing has the potential to become mainstream within 12 months and to become the dominant architecture customers will be demanding in two to three years." Windows XP Media Center Version 2 has just been released, and the third version will be delivered before the year-end holiday season, Button said, adding that the Tablet PC is seeing a strong surge in interest so far this year. Longhorn, Whidbey and the Media Center got prime billing in WinHEC keynotes by Bill Gates and Jim Allchin. Click here to read more. But making the Tablet PC more mainstream requires better hardware, a better battery life and higher-quality digitizing and displays. In a demo of the next version of the Tablet, code-named Lonestar, Button showed improvements in the recognition and conversion of writing (ink) to text. A battery breakthrough would power adoption of the Tablet PC in Europe, columnist Guy Kewney writes. Click here to read more. On the Outlook front, the e-mail service has been made context-aware, while a number of new third-party applications have also been developed, Button said. One application allows users to create their own font, which can be turned into the desktop font, allowing you to see your handwriting across the desktop. "It is the ultimate personalization tool," he said, to much laughter from the audience. One area where Microsoft is spending an ever-increasing amount of time is in emerging markets, which are showing major industry growthparticularly Russia, India, Brazil and China. "But these markets require new products and business models that are affordable, accessible and durable, that will stand up in the face of unreliable electricity and on-and-off connectivity," Button said. Check out eWEEK.coms Windows Center at http://windows.eweek.com for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis. Be sure to add our eWEEK.com Windows news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:
Microsoft Research is predicting that two-thirds of growth in developed markets of the consumer notebook space will be for additional PCs, Button said.