First-quarter shipments of PCs should grow 4.8 percent over the same period last year, and 7.9 percent over the course of the year, according to research firm Gartner Dataquest Inc.
In a report issued this week, the San Jose, Calif., company said it expects 33.2 million PCs to ship in the first quarter and 138.7 million computers to ship in 2003.
There are a number of hurdles that need to be overcome, including the possible war with Iraq, the sluggish economy and the lack of a killer application to really jump-start the industry, according to the firm.
"In 2003, the outcome of the U.S.-Iraq confrontation will be the key factor in influencing the timing of an economic recovery and that timing, in turn, will impact PC sales," analyst George Shiffler said in a prepared statement. "The uncertainty of the near-term economic outlook is dampening consumers confidence as well as corporate PC purchases."
Enterprises that must contend with shrinking or stagnant IT budgets continue to reuse computers or add only components rather than buy whole PCs, the analysts said. However, many of the large numbers of computers bought before 2000 to deal with the Y2K issues are now reaching the end of their usefulness and need to be replaced, they said. The analysts also pointed out that there was a rise in large accounts in the United States in the last quarter in 2002, and could bode well for spending this year.
"With the threat of war, the economic recovery will most likely be delayed in the second half of the year, and the major professional replacement cycle should begin to occur in the fourth quarter of 2003," Shiffler said.