The late arrival of Microsofts Windows Vista isnt expected to wield a serious blow to PC shipments, a new report by IDC says.
The software giant on March 21 said it would delay the general release of Vista, its next-generation operating system for PCs, to January 2007. The OS had been scheduled for wide release this fall, although Microsoft said it would offer large businesses the code to upgrade to Vista in November.
The decision will have some impact on PC shipments, but it will be limited, as businesses arent likely to change their plans-most will evaluate the OS for at least a year before rolling it out-following the change. Consumer PCs will feel the brunt of the blow. But even that could be smaller than originally thought, IDC said, as part of a regular update of its worldwide PC shipment forecast.
"Some consumers will certainly delay PC purchases until Vista is available, but we expect the delay to shift only moderate volume from the fourth quarter of 2006 into 2007 and will not cause a loss of sales," said Loren Loverde, director of IDCs Worldwide PC Tracker, in Framingham, Mass., in a statement. "The timing of the release will have some impact on when consumers buy, but not so much on whether or not they buy."
Microsoft chalked up its decision to delay Vista to an overabundance of caution in not wanting to affect PC makers fourth quarter consumer PC plans with a possible missed ship date. Delivering the code in November would mean that many PC makers wouldnt be able to test, load it onto PCs and get the machines to stores in time for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which, traditionally, is the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the United States.
IDC expects that, without Vista, Microsoft and PC manufacturers will adjust their marketing in an effort to use other things to drive holiday PC purchases. Although its not yet clear if they will team up to offer upgrade coupons or other special offers to spur would-be Vista users to buy in the fourth quarter instead of waiting.
Meanwhile, the PC market will be somewhat stronger next year and in subsequent years than some earlier predictions had suggested.
Following a strong fourth quarter this year, the growth rate in the PC market will slow to just over 10 percent for 2007 and 2008, the March 27 report by the research company said.
The 10 percent growth rate prediction pales in comparison to figures of 15 percent or higher growth rates seen in the recent past. However, it is stronger than previous forecasts by IDC and also by Gartner Group, which had been estimating single-digit growth rates for the 2007 and 2008 period.
IDC continues to believe the market will start to slow in most regions during the balance of this year, the company said in its statement. However, some growth will shift from 2006 to 2007-a combination of stronger commercial spending and a larger response to Vista-adding more strength to that year, it said.
Thus worldwide PC unit shipments, which came to almost 208 million in 2005, will grow by 10.5 percent in 2006 and 10.7 percent in 2007, versus IDCs November 2005 predictions of 10.6 percent and 8.9 percent for 2006 and 2007, respectively. Unit shipments are now projected to total 230 million and reach 254 million for 2006 and 2007, respectively, IDC said.