Gartner: PC Sales to Grow 11 Percent in 2007

PC sales will grow at a healthy rate of 11.1 percent in 2007 despite no major software driver, including the release of Windows Vista, according to a report from Gartner.

The research firm Worldwide PC shipments are projected to reach 257.1 million units in 2007, a nice jump from the 231.5 million units sold in 2006. Much of that is coming from new PC sales into emerging markets worldwide and surprising strength in the home.

George Shiffler, research director for Gartner’s client platforms markets group, told that the consumer/home space is being driven by mobility as laptops have become the second and third computer of choice in the home.

“Every time we say [mobile sales] are going to start to slow, it comes in with another strong quarter. So we say ok, we’ll raise the bar again,” he said. “The mobile computer is becoming this all-purpose device, more than just a PC. It’s a combination of wireless communications device and a content device.”

Gartner believes that the market for mobile systems in the home has a lot of momentum and “a lot of room to run,” Shiffler said.

Laptops have become considerably more powerful in recent years, and even gamers are using them in lieu of PCs. They are ideal for other areas of the house than the “computer area,” such as the kitchen or living room, because they are smaller than a PC, and with wireless networking cables don’t need to be run through the house.

Desktop PCs still comprise the bulk of sales, however. Gartner expects desktops will hold a majority of sales in emerging markets for the next two years: 77 million units versus 51 million mobile units. Overall, though, mobile sales are up 27.1 percent this year, while desktop sales are up only 2.4 percent.

As for the expected Vista Effect — that Microsoft’s new operating system would spike sales — forget it. “We think Vista has little effect on PC demand,” said Shiffler. “We don’t see it driving new placements and/or causing a significant pickup in replacements.”

This would seem contrary to Microsoft’s claim of 40 million Vista units sold, but Shiffler said that’s simply attributable to a rising tide of overall sales.

“If you look at the volumes, shipment volumes in and of themselves are one-and-a-half to twice what they were when XP shipped,” he said. “Plus, a lot of vendors made a wholesale switch over to Vista, so when people were buying PCs, they bought a Vista machine.”

The IT/business market is currently at the bottom end of a replacement cycle, at least in the US, so corporate sales are slow and reducing the overall figure. Shiffler said that the transition to mobile is going slower in business than in the home, which would seem to the contrary. But he attributed it to the fact many office workers don’t need a laptop, which is more expensive to purchase and maintain.

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