iSuppli sees PC slowdown but IDC expects a drop

Research firm iSuppli has lowered its forecast growth for worldwide PC shipments to 0.7 per cent from 4.3 per cent previously, citing the severe global economic crisis as a key reason. But IDC has followed Gartner in predicting a fall in sales, down 4.5 per cent versus Gartner’s more pessimistic 11.9 per cent slide.

The latest forecast from iSuppli means that global shipments of PCs, which include desktops, laptops and low-cost netbooks, will likely hit 301.5 million units this year, up from 299.4 million units in 2008.

“iSuppli expects an acceleration of decline in the desktop segment in 2009, along with a reduction of the growth rate in the notebook segment, leading to weak growth for the year,” iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins said in a statement.

The research firm also said that global PC shipments slipped 1.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008 from the previous quarter, compared with the double-digit percentage growth typically seen in previous years. IDC claimed the fall in the fourth quarter of last year was 1.9 per cent.

“Although consumers around the world started to feel the full impact of the credit crisis in the third quarter of 2008, this phenomenon didn’t negatively impact PC sales,” Wilkins said. “However, by the fourth quarter, even the PC market succumbed to economic reality.”

IDC said component suppliers had seen dramatic declines in shipments to PC makers but a significant portion of that will be due to clearing of inventory, particularly because the crisis hit in the fourth quarter when inventory was at its annual peak.

“To be sure, the PC market is in for a bumpy ride,” said Loren Loverde, director of IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. “Nevertheless, there are a number of reasons why the PC market will not fare dramatically worse in the current environment than it did in the 2001 recession – even if the current economic environment is notably worse. Pricing will become even more aggressive, and there will be further consolidation, but the PC industry will not go the way of the financial or auto industries in this cycle.”

IDC claimed emerging markets have been hardest hit in and so these will see double-digit reductions in shipments of PCs during the next three quarters. Mature regions will weather the current economic climate somewhat better due to their ability to absorb financial losses.

According to iSuppli, Acer, the world’s third-largest PC brand, was the best performer among the top five, with its shipments up 57.9 per cent in 2008, fuelled by the success of its low-cost netbooks. Netbooks were first pioneered by Asustek of Taiwan in 2007, but most other brands including Dell and Lenovo have all pushed their own line as price-conscious consumers hit by the crisis look to taper their spending.

Other brands that saw double-digit shipment growth last year included global leader Hewlett-Packard, which grew 12.9 percent, and No. 5 player Toshiba, which grew 22.1 per cent.

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