The economy has bounced back quickly enough that the computer business will have seen a slight boost this year, Gartner said in a study published on Monday. The analyst group estimates that shipments will have overall climbed 2.8 percent in 2009 to about 298.9 million computers. It marks a sharp reversal from a forecast as late as September that had computers sinking 2 percent. A recovery of the sort is credited mostly to strong sales in the summer and "modest" anticipated growth in the summer.
However, the experts predict that revenue will have dropped 10.7 percent versus 2008 as many Windows PC builders are suffering from steep declines in the typical prices for their systems. Research director George Shiffler likened the effect to a vicious circle as customers search for the cheapest possible PC, leading builders to lower their own prices and repeat the process. Netbooks were considered part of the problem.
"Customers have looked for 'good enough' PCs at the cheapest price, and vendors have tried to spur market growth by catering to ever-lower price points," he said. "We expect PC ASP [average selling price] declines to slow as the market recovers, but given the market's competitive dynamic, we don't see PC ASPs rising any time soon."
Gartner added that it only sees Windows 7 having a "limited" effect on the holidays as few if any will buy a computer solely to get Windows 7. It also doesn't estimate that Windows 7 will find much traction in the workplace until late 2010, leaving a relative vacuum through at least early 2010.
A handful of companies, particularly Acer, Apple and Toshiba, have grown significantly ahead of the curve where more established leaders like Dell and HP have struggled in the same period.