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11% PC Growth For 2008: Gartner

Stamford, Conn. — Worldwide PC sales could increase almost 11 percent this year over 2007 if the worldwide economy manages to stay strong, Gartner reported.

The research firm is calling for a 10.9 percent increase on sales of 264 million units worldwide for 2008. A large portion of these sales will take place in emerging markets where growth is expected to hit 22 percent. Also buoying sales are the continued strength of the laptop market and an expected replacement cycle for desktop computers that will start this year, the company reported.

“Replacements account for 60 percent of PC shipments worldwide and nearly 80 percent of U.S. PC shipments, so growing replacement activity will provide a helpful boost to PC growth,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner.

Notebook sales are being helped by lower average selling prices, making them a good value proposition when compared with a desktop PC. In addition, the continuing expansion of Internet access outside the home is a plus for sales.

Another potential area of growth, particularly outside the United States, will be the introduction of very low-priced notebooks this year.

However, if the world’s economy slows, it will have an impact on computer sales in 2008, possibly driving the unit increase down into the single digits, Shiffler said. This is despite the fact PCs are now less expensive and are an absolute necessity for most businesses.

“PCs are still far from being completely recession-proof,” Shiffler said, “A deeper and more extended global slowdown emanating from the U.S. and China would slow PC unit growth even more by sapping mobile PC demand, slowing emerging-market growth and delaying replacement activity