IDC: PC market to see double-digit growth

The rise of portable PCs has seen the market return to growth faster than expected following last year's recession, though revenues will take longer to recover.

money flying out of a computer

The global recovery in the technology sector is expected to drive double-digit growth in the PC market for the next five years, market research firm IDC said.

The company's latest Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker predicts PC shipments across the globe will rise by 12.6 per cent in 2010, followed by yearly jumps of 13.9, 12.7, 11.5 and 11.3 per cent until the end of 2014. Revenues will show more modest growth, however, as the market increasingly shifts to portable PCs.

A marked turnaround in the second half of the year saw 2009 markets emerge from recession to end the year up 2.9 per cent overall 6.7 per cent in the US and 1.8 per cent elsewhere.

Any positive growth at all last year can be entirely attributed to consumer purchases, grew by 38.5 per cent year over year, according to IDC.

Indeed, the recovery is being driven almost entirely by more consumer-focused portable PCs, with sales jumping 18.4 per cent in 2009 and expected to account for 70 per cent of the entire PC market by 2012.

The emergence of portable PCs also marks the key difference between the current market and eight years ago, when a smaller recession on the back of the dot-com bubble collapse had a more pronounced, and longer lasting, effect on the PC market.

"PC volume continued to grow in 2009 faring much better than in 2001, when a smaller recession produced a decline in PC volume," IDC research analyst Jay Chou said in a statement. "The positive 2009 results reflect lower prices and the fact that PCs are increasingly a must-have product."

Portable PCs aside, shipments of desktop PCs actually fell 12.3 per cent globally in 2009, and are expected to maintain a single-digit annual decline into the future despite the overall boom.

In terms of revenue, meanwhile, recovery is expected to be slower, with the shift in focus to portable PCs meaning 2008 revenue levels are expected to be reached again in 2012, requiring 140 million more units shipped to do so.

Worldwide, IDC expects 333.2 million PCs to be shipped this year, rising to 531.3 million by 2014.

However, despite the interest currently being shown in Apple's iPad with 120,000 units reportedly sold on its first day on pre-order last week IDC said it doesn't expect tablet sales to negatively impact other PC markets in the short term.

"IDC is keenly focused on the forthcoming tablet device market," Bob O'Donnell, the company's vice-president of clients and displays, said in a statement. "However, we don't expect these products, which do not meet the current IDC definition of a PC, will stunt the strong growth in PCs we're expecting to see this year."

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