Gartner Predicts Q4 PC Growth, Windows 7 Bump in 2010

Overall PC shipments are expected to be up in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to a new report from Gartner. Falling ASPs, however, have market value on the downhill, and the effects of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system likely won't be felt until 2010.

The overall PC market is expected to show growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, though falling average selling prices will again lead to a decline in the market value of PC shipments, according to a Nov. 23 report from Gartner.
Driven by mobile PC shipments, the overall PC market is expected to reach 298.9 million units in 2009-an increase of 2.8 percent over 2008 numbers. Growth is predicted to continue into 2010, with PC shipments reaching 336.6 million units, or a 12.6 percent increase over projected 2009 numbers. Still, Gartner warns against being overly optimistic about the numbers.
"Shipments in the third quarter of 2009 were much stronger than we expected, and that alone virtually guaranteed we would see positive growth this year," said George Shiffler, a Gartner research director, in a statement.
"We're anticipating seasonably modest growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, but because shipments were so weak in the fourth quarter of 2008, growth will appear quite strong. This could lull vendors and market watchers into thinking the market is recovering faster than it really is," Shiffler continued.
Due to what Shiffler calls an "unprecedented decline" in PC ASPs (average selling prices), the market value of global PC shipments-despite the rising number of shipments-is expected to total $217 billion in 2009, which is a 10.7 percent decline from 2008. This number is predicted to creep up by 2.6 percent, to $22.9 billion, in 2010.
"The rapid decline in PC ASPs reflects a market shift toward lower price points as customers have looked for -good enough' PCs at the cheapest price, and vendors have tried to spur market growth by catering to ever-lower price points," Shiffler said. "We expect PC ASP declines to slow as the market recovers, but given the market's competitive dynamic, we don't see PC ASPs rising any time soon."
The rising shipment numbers are being driven by mobile PCs shipments, which Gartner states are on pace to reach 162 million units in 2009-a 15.4 percent increase over 2008-and 196.4 million units in 2010. Desktop PCs, conversely, are expected to be down by 9 percent from 2008 totals, for shipments of 136.9 million units. In 2010, that figure is expected to reach 140.2 million units.
Shiffler expects the mobile PC category to get a boost from mininotebooks, also called netbooks, though while Gartner has raised its near-term forecast for mininotebooks, it has also narrowed its scenarios for them.
"Mininotebooks are facing increased competition from other low-cost mobile PCs, as well as alternative mobile devices. They are rapidly finding their level in the market, and we expect their growth to noticeably slow as early as next year," Shiffler said.
Further, Gartner expects Windows 7, which Microsoft released Oct. 22, to somewhat contribute to holiday sales, but with its greater impact being reflected in 2010 shipments.
"The critical question is, -When will businesses make their move to Windows 7, and what will they do about replacements in the interim?'" Shiffler said in the statement. "We don't see businesses mainstreaming Windows 7 much before the end of 2010. We think many businesses will try to shift replacements to the back end of next year, so as to sync their adoption of Windows 7 with their PC refresh. That will put a damper on early 2010 shipments."
PC maker Dell, during its financial report for the third quarter of fiscal year 2010, echoed the sentiment that in 2010 enterprises are likely to begin refreshing their older PCs with new models running Windows 7.