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PC Sales Poised For Double-Digit Growth

Global PC shipments show solid increases over the next five years, but revenue will recover at a slower pace, say analysts.

The global PC market has emerged from last year's recession poised for double-digit growth over the next five years, a market research firm said Monday.

With the economic recovery picking up, PC shipments this year will grow by 12.6% year-over-year to 333.2 million units, according to IDC's forecast. Double-digit growth will continue through the following four years, reaching 13.9% in 2011, 12.7% in 2012, 11.5% in 2013, and 11.3% in 2014.

Driving the increase will be portable PCs, which are expected to account for 70% of the global market by 2012. Meanwhile, desktop PCs will see only slightly positive yearly growth through 2014, with declining shipments in all regions except Asia/Pacific, excluding Japan.

While shipments overall show solid increases, market revenue will recover at a slower pace, IDC predicted. Revenue growth will be 5% this year and nearly 7% in 2011. Global revenue is not expected to surpass 2008's number until 2012. The economic recession struck towards the end of 2008.

Nevertheless, the pace of average selling price declines will moderate, IDC said. A sign of that already happening was seen in the fourth quarter of 2009, when growth in shipments of netbooks, inexpensive mini-laptops, slowed while other laptop categories overall saw a 22% increase year over year.

Despite last year's economic downturn, which brought a bleak first half of the year, the market's recovery in the second half pushed 2009 global shipments up 2.9% year-over-year to 296 million units, IDC said. In the United States, shipments rose 6.7% to 70 million units.

However, consumer purchases were the sole driver of the market last year, growing at 38.5% year over year, IDC said. Commercial shipments did not show any sign of life until the end of the year, when growth in the fourth quarter came in at just under 1%. The positive result provided a "glimpse of an anticipated commercial refresh in 2010," the research firm said.

The United States is expected to see double-digit growth in PC shipments in three years of the five-year forecast: 8.5% this year, 13.7% in 2011, 12.1% in 2012, 10.4% in 2013, and 9.5% in 2014, IDC said. The U.S. and other mature markets are expected to see slower growth in PC shipments than emerging markets.

One category of the PC market being watched closely by IDC is tablet devices, which are getting lots of attention due to Apple's introduction of the iPad, which is set to ship in early April.

"IDC is keenly focused on the forthcoming tablet device market," Bob O'Donnell, IDC VP 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."

IDC rival Garter released its preliminary 2010 forecast earlier this month, reporting that global PC shipments and revenue would increase 19.7% and 12.2%, respectively, year over year. In terms of actual numbers, that amounts to 366.1 million units and $245 billion.

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