The early boom in sales during 2010 will tail off by the end of the year, according to a new report from Gartner.
The analyst firm is projecting shipments as high as 367.8 million in 2010, an increase of about 20 per cent on the 308 million last year. However, the majority of these sales will have been in the first half of the year, are set to fall in the run up to 2011.
"The PC market revived in the first half of 2010, but the real test of its resilience is yet to come," said Ranjit Atwal, a research director at Gartner.
"We have reduced our forecast for second-half 2010 PC growth to 15.3 per cent, approximately two per cent below our previous forecast, in light of the uncertain economic outlook for the US and western Europe."
Atwal explained that business purchases had slowed as expected owing to financial considerations. However, purchases have been delayed, rather than cancelled.
The consumer market has remained strong, according to the report, which said that PCs are now seen as a necessity.
"Consumers buoyed the PC market in 2009 as businesses delayed purchases. The slow pace of economic recovery, and austerity measures in Europe, have made PC suppliers very cautious in 2010," he said.
"However, consumer demand is likely to remain strong even if the economic recovery stalls because consumers now view the PC as a relative 'necessity' rather than a 'luxury', and will continue to spend on PCs even at the expense of other consumer electronic devices."
Organisations may have been slow to spend, but Atwal warned that staff using old machines could have a negative impact on productivity, and that companies should start investing as soon as possible.
"Businesses that delay replacing much longer risk alienating employees, burdening themselves with more service requests and support costs, and ultimately facing higher costs when they eventually migrate to Windows 7," he said.
"The bottom line is that businesses need to refresh their PCs sooner rather than later. Thus, the full bloom of the long-awaited professional PC refresh can't be more than a few quarters ahead."
The mini notebook sector saw its second consecutive drop in shipments, falling by 18 per cent. Gartner said that that the devices had peaked in 2009, and that sales are likely to continue downward, particularly as the iPad and its clones bite into the market.
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