Digital entertainment devices will take over from PCs as the must-have hi-tech Christmas present this year, market research has predicted.
Gartner expects that, while overall PC shipments will experience double-digit growth in the run up to the festive season, this will be due to healthy shipments in the professional market.
In contrast, home PC sales as Christmas approaches will be weaker than expected because of increased competition from digital entertainment products.
PC shipments are projected to total 51.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2004, according to the analyst firm, a 10.1 per cent increase from the same period last year.
"Aside from mobility, there is conspicuous lack of 'must-have' new features for home PC users, and this is noticeably impacting home sales, especially replacement purchases," said George Shiffler, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Platforms research.
Kiyomi Yamada, analyst for Gartner's Client Platforms research, added: "This lack of 'must-have' features makes the expanding selection of entertainment electronics, such as flat-panel TVs, look even more attractive to consumers.
"Many leading PC vendors are showcasing digital entertainment products this holiday season, and many consumers will choose to spend their holiday budgets on these products rather than PCs."
The analyst firm said that a slower home market is having an impact on year-end projections. Worldwide PC shipments are now forecast to reach 182.7 million units in 2004, an 11.4 per cent increase over 2003. This is down from Gartner's previous forecast of 13 per cent growth for this year.
Gartner analysts indicated that the home market's disappointing third-quarter performance accounts for about half of the difference in the revised forecast, while the prospect of weaker home sales this holiday season accounts for the remainder.
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