Research company IDC released rosy figures for overall worldwide PC sales on Thursday, even though the industry is beset with warnings from vendors that sales are way below expectations.
IDC said it stands firm against its upbeat forecast, but is careful to point out that not all geographical markets are behaving the same way.
It divides the PC business into two markets - consumer and commercial - and while one sector is suffering in a particular region, IDC claims that growth in the other is making up for the shortfall.
In western Europe, for instance, the company said that consumer sales appear to be healthy, while a slowdown in the commercial sector was to blame for recent lowered estimates by vendors.
IDC suggests that commercial PC sales in Germany and France had not recovered from the year 2000 malaise as quickly as had been anticipated, and consequently cut its overall fourth-quarter growth estimate for worldwide shipments from 19 per cent to 15.1 per cent.
The researcher paints a mirror image in the US market where it says the consumer market has slowed down but the business market is warming up. Although this week's profit warnings by consumer vendors Gateway and Apple reflect that prognosis, yesterday's downgraded estimates announcement by Intel demonstrates that business PC sales are also down.
However, IDC calculates that total US fourth-quarter sales will rise only 10.2 per cent over last year, down from the 21.2 per cent increase predicted three months ago.
Roger Kay, IDC's manager of desktop PC hardware, said: "This up-tick is primarily due to two factors: the Windows 2000 upgrade cycle is finally beginning to kick in; and PCs bought early [1997 and 1998] for millennium compliance are reaching the end of their life cycle."
On a worldwide basis, IDC's new prediction is that shipments for the fourth quarter of this year will total 40.15 million units, up 19.6 per cent from the same period last year. This is only a slight revision from September when it predicted 40.4 million shipments, a 20.3 per cent increase over last year.
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